Preston Lovinggood
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Preston Lovinggood

Birmingham, Alabama, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Birmingham, Alabama, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter

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Apr
12
Preston Lovinggood @ SouthSounds Music Festival

Mobile, AL

Mobile, AL

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Four years after the demise of his critically successful band Wild Sweet Orange (WSO), Alabama singer-songwriter Preston Lovinggood has returned with a 12-song debut effort Sun Songs. Though it is not nearly as engaging as WSO's masterwork We Have Cause To Be Uneasy, there is certainly plenty to like.

For starters, Sun Songs is daring and unconventional with a definitive lo-fi bent. Vacillating between intimate lo-fi indie folk and quirky roots pop, there's an authority and conviction at work on all of the songs that is far too hard to imitate. Much of the album is understated and nowhere is that more evident that on the subtle guitar arpeggio that opens the co-title track/album opener. Featuring distant vocals and a warm, vernal sentiment, the entire 90 seconds are nothing if not immediate, effective and solacing. Ostensibly a prologue, "Sun Song" has a homespun and wholesome quality that makes it almost impossible to dislike. The coziness of "Sun Song" is disbanded almost immediately however on the jittery and fractious "Natural," a slightly nocturnal slice of roots-punk that is Lovinggood at his most vulnerable. Effectively a candid admission of his yearning childhood, "Natural" is big-hearted and brilliant in every sense of the word.

Lovinggood has never shied away from the histrionic and nowhere is that more apparent than on the attitude-driven "Papa's in the Movies." Decidedly Southern, urgent and rustic, the song chugs along in a pace that is both steady and rhythmic. Sonically it extends where "Natural" left off but does so in a manner that is both immediate and also candid. While going so far as to call him a thespian is probably hyperbole, Lovinggood does have a sense of urgency in his delivery that commands your attention. To put it bluntly, he has a presence, a swagger if you will, that many of his contemporaries are sorely lacking.

Never one to shy away from taking chances, he dabbles in new wave on the synth-driven "Somewhere Along The Way," a buzzy and gritty slice of accessible college rock that is absolutely tremendous. And then, rather unexpectedly, the song stops at the 1:50 mark and turns into a hazy and haunting acoustic effort that is fingerpicked, fragile and freakishly fantastic. But, Sun Songs is still not even halfway done. That ends shortly though, as the disc's first side concludes with the rustling "Little Gods," and the irresistible "Further."

The former is the first song on the disc that sounds analogous to WSO. Anchored by a buoyant banjo and a swampy guitar solo, "Little Gods" is meandering but far from aimless. On the contrary, the direct "Further" is an understated love song that allows his vocals to be the central, and practically the only, instrument . Rising over the light prattle of drums, it is a homespun tonic to a defeated world.. With female vocals cooing on the chorus, it is nothing short of awesome. The LP's intermission is the 40 second instrumental "Enter Mental, which for all intents and purposes is a chance to rest and nothing more. A collapsible sigh, a collective rest, a chance to inhale and decompress. And then, the proverbial cannonballs really begin to hurl.

The back half of Sun Songs opens with "Give It Your Name," which confusingly opens homespun and acoustic and is anchored by distant vocals. Rather quickly the song segues into a crackling and howling slice of angst-fueled Southern garage blues. While the end result is slightly head-scratching, the originality and the audacity of Lovinggood to veer left and shake things up is exactly why he remains such a worthy name to keep on the obligatory music radar. One of Sun Songs most accessible efforts is the sonically languorous "Terminator," a fitting song for July summer barbecues. Well, that is if your crowd enjoys brutal honesty introspection.

The album's closing triumvirate is arguably the album's best back-to-back pairing. The first of the three is "Helicopter" a near-perfect ode to paranoia, nervosa and uncertainty. When Lovinggood sings, "There's a helicopter in my brain," you almost want to reach out and him a drink. And after the crestfallen and heartbreak-riddled "Shipwrecked," you want to hand him a handle of vodka and offer him a bro-hug. In all seriousness, "Shipwrecked" is arguably one of the most effective and honest songs about heartache released this year.

Sun Songs closes on the co-title track, a sturdy acoustic effort that is nearly identical to the album opener. With a small lyric change, the song rises above, a hopeful conclusion to an album jam packed with an array of conflicting emotions. In just 12 brief songs, we've been witness to Lovinggood the hopeless romantic, the wide-eyed dreamer, and the emotionally bruised child.

Regardless of the sub - Absolute Punk


Fire Note Says: Preston Lovinggood surprises with a sensuous debut album.

Album Review: Preston Lovinggood was most recently in the band Wild Sweet Orange who were based out of Birmingham, AL. With this in mind I was expecting some strong Southern rock as I fired up Sun Songs. I was surprised to find a lush, airy collection of songs that has heavy influences from such stalwarts like The Beatles and The Beach Boys. That latter band is evoked by the album title and by the vocal filter used on many of the songs. The tight vocal harmonies aren’t there (Lovinggood sings solo on most tracks) but everything else seems to be.

Sun Songs begins appropriately enough with a song called “Sun Song” and ends with a track called “Sun Songs.” These bookmarks set the tone for the album. Following “Sun Song” is a two-minute track called “Natural.” It begins with an urgent guitar strum and then Lovinggood’s desperate voice quickly appears. He intones “As a child I could never sleep” with a menace and hopefulness that let me know he meant it. The song doesn’t overstay its welcome and even finds time for some pumped-in crowd noise. Immediately following “Natural” is “Papa’s In The Movies Now,” which has what sounds like steel guitar popping in and out – there’s that Southern influence! Lovinggood’s voice matches perfectly with the remaining composition of the song. “Papa pick me up I wanna go driving” is a line repeated several times and demonstrates the need for movement, any type of motion, that is needed.
“Terminator” is sparse and typifies the lo-fi approach to Sun Songs. That sound allows for the strength of lyrics, instrumentation, and vocals. The song ends with a grunt that lets you know that Lovinggood is working, putting his heart into this album. That effort pays off with a brisk album that breezes by. I’m writing this in the midst of a late-March snowstorm, which is cruel. This album made me want to soak up some Vitamin D at the beach.

Key Tracks: “Natural”, “Papa’s In The Movies Now”, “Terminator”

Artists With Similar Fire: The Morning Benders / Sloan / The Shins - The Fire Note


His frenetic level of output may have diminished in recent years but Conor Oberst has cast a long shadow over sensitive indie singer-songwriters, both in style of writing, vocal method and genre defining musical sounds - the scratchy lo-fi guitar and the live band sound of albums like Cassadaga. This has quite a lot to do with our current subject, as "Sun Songs" utilises the abilities of an Oberst sideman Taylor Hollingsworth as producer and supplier of electric guitar, drums and some of those trademark scratchy sounds. Preston Lovinggood’s vocal style on some tracks seems to deliberately echo that Oberst sensitive, troubled yelp. So that's the background, but let’s also note right here that this album is very much Lovinggood's as well, no mere imitator he.
The brief opener "Sun Song" is the epitome of lo-fi, minor chord melancholy which highlights the contrast with the big beat of follow-on "Natural", which flirts with childhood depression, or at least disassociation, colouring adult behaviour ("I was born and raised as natural as a flower / wanting it to rain / please rain every day/ as a child, as a child I could never sleep / always lookin' out windows / now I'm older still...lookin' out windows"). As a flower leans towards the sun so the man reaches out to the warmth of those similar to himself in a search for love. Maybe. But not everything is as clear cut and unambiguous as this - the rich buzzing "Somewhere Along the Way" is the archetype of imprecise ("Somewhere along the way / I don't know how it happened / but somehow it happened / slow").

On several tracks there is a feeling, or a hint, that these are intensely personal songs, that hold a meaning that would be clear if enough cryptic clues were provided, or if one were Preston Lovinggood (or maybe a very close friend). Without that inner knowledge there can be a feeling that something is being missed, but this is pretty much compensated for by the songs sounding so good. Like a fire damaged diary there's just enough remaining to hold the attention and pleasantly tease at the mind. Sometimes, though, things are very clear; accompanied by just a picked acoustic guitar "Shipwrecked" lays out in weary detail a lost love. "Shipwrecked...totally abandoned" Lovinggood intones, and his is clearly a heart that has been torn from its body and emotionally flayed ("you broke my heart / you broke my heart / you knew what I was doing / when you broke my heart"). Clear enough for anyone.

From barely there lo-fi folk to powerfully poppy, this is an album that engages the emotions even when you're not sure why, and lays out a complex and dizzying experience that might achieve the required familiarity simply because deep inside we've all shared some part of these experiences. Knocked around by life, ground down, defiant, supported by friends and ultimately alone. That's being human, isn't it? You should hear this. - Americana UK


I’m not entirely sure what Wild Sweet Orange fans were expecting when Preston Lovinggood announced he would be returning with a solo record. I am, however, absolutely certain they weren’t expecting Sun Songs. While Wild Sweet Orange had a tendency to veer back and forth between acoustic-driven ‘90s emo and bare-bones folk numbers, there wasn’t that much of an indication for Lovinggood’s apparent fixation with 1960s/’70s powerpop. Which is a downright shame considering Sun Songs is some of the strongest work of Lovinggood’s career.

From the opening trio of tracks (especially the third, “Papa’s in the Movies”), Lovinggood brings to mind names new and old, including, surprisingly often, Dan Bejar. From nuanced vocal delivery to grasp of melody, Lovinggood proves that he’s more than able with his newly self-imposed genre confines. There’s more than enough here to make Sun Songs one of 2013’s most fascinating and enjoyable releases. - POPMATTERS


Formerly of the Alabama cult band Wild Sweet Orange, Preston Lovinggood is no stranger to music. Though he stayed relatively under the radar in the couple years that followed his former band’s breakup, he returned with new material last February with his solo debut, Sun Songs, which was followed by Shadow Songs, his sophomore disc that came out earlier this year.

The album is beautifully written and structured. “Shipwrecked” is a standout on Shadow Songs, having a calm, swaying rhythm to it that lives up to its nautical theme. “Fear Not” is also notable, serving as the final track, and has a strong sense of nostalgia for classic indie rock. As the LP goes on, however, some of the songs begin to blend together, especially as the middle of the record approaches. That isn’t to say it gets tedious or boring, as Lovinggood surprises the listener by adding little twists and turns in unexpected places; “Overactor,” for example, concludes with a cheery, almost cartoonish melody that is completely set apart from the rest of the song.

Though nearly half of Shadow Songs is made up of the same tracks that are found on its predecessor, Lovinggood puts a new spin on “Little Gods,” “Further” and “Naturals,” deviating from the lo-fi vibe he tried to create with his first full-length. The artist keeps it simple, which results in Shadow Songs having a minimalistic charm to it. His lyrics are raw and showcase his vulnerability, which fans of his previous musical endeavors will appreciate, though this ushers in a new era for his career that is all his own.

In A Word: Charismatic

—by Amy Ebeling, April 30, 2014 - The Aquarian Weekly


When did you begin writing the material for Shadow Songs?

I started writing the material for Shadow Songs at my friends art show in New York City in august 2010.

What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?

“Further.” I think there was so much persona emotion tied to the song that I fought Darrell Thorp pretty hard on how I wanted it to sound. Finally I gave up and realized his ideas were better.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song? Doesn’t have to be a Sun Songs track.

What’s funny is every song really came out just how i performed it to Darrell in the studio. He really has a way of taking what you give him and realizing it doesn’t need much more than just 1,000 layers!!! Hahaha. But the layers really never changed the honesty of the song. ” Little Gods” and “Cage Dive” are the only songs that I had no idea what Darrell would end up doing with. and they both ended up great.

Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?

Jebin Bruni was brought on from day one (A Mann, Micheale Mann, Fiona Apple) played keys and synthsizer for almost every song. It was really cool having him on board. keyboard plays

a major part in shadow songs. towards the end of the record Darrell also brought on Brian Lebarton (Beck, Feist) to finish up a few songs and it was great having him on keyboard and synth as well. Another great thing about the record is one of my favorite moments,” Pat Conroy Beach Music”, which is an instrumental spoken word interlude piece, was that the actress Abbey Miller stopped by the studio in Burbank and I got to get my first taste of directing. It was supposed to be like she was leaving a voice mail. I kept giving her little hints of what I wanted it to feel like, and as she was giving it a go she started crying!!! It was one of my favorite moments of recording shadow songs. I had also met Todd Fink from the band The Faint. He did a little spoken word piece as well. Couldnt have been more proud to have him as a presence on the album! really a dream come true!
Sanders Bolhke sang on the track “Sun Songs” which was important for me. Kate Hollingsworth from the band Dead Fingers sang on “Shipwrecked” and “Overactor”. She has sang on every record I have ever put out. So it was super special to have her around and apart!

Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?

Darrell Thorp produced Shadow Songs. He was like a wing man who painted the whole time.

I just brought the songs. He helped me finish arranging them. helped me know what was a chorus or a bridge or a verse and painted the whole project really honestly and beautifully.

Is there an overarching concept behind the music that ties the songs together?

Sure. I would say loss of innocence turned into greed hate. Loss of relationship. Divorced. Cut off from the whole.

Were you planning to do Shadow Songs all along? Even when you were recording Sun Songs?

When I was recording Sun Songs I really thought Shadow Songs was never going to come out. In fact, it was not even called Shadow Songs. It did not have a title yet!

Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?

Yes. But you know, I find when that when I’m in a good mood, the songs seem to come across all in the same way, And they all feel like one song and people respond to the whole show. But, I would say

“Shipwrecked”, “Natural”, “Terminator”, “Overactor”, have all seemed to have a reaction with people that know what I’m trying to throw down!!! - GHETTOBLASTER


A record of gloom, but not a gloomy record
A flint is struck in a cave or dark place, a spark of light, just the glimmer of release is struck in the captive, this is this record. The spark to start a fire, the glimmer of release, the first morsel of hope when all one sees is desperation. It is elaborate, eloquent art rock, bristling with its own cleverness, swinging moodily. It feels like a work done in seasons; it’s not clear if it is supposed to have a grander concept to tie it together, a narrative or a thematic thread that draws it to the holistic point for the listener to focus upon, this listener has drawn his own conclusions. The tracks are Spring, Summer, Autumn, and so on, cyclical, interwoven, the sum of the parts being greater than the whole. The download generation will struggle to grasp this it’s a series of movements, a suite of songs, grafted into onto each other, enable the next to exist, organically breeding the next.
It opens with the green growth of ‘Overactor’, and when the sun burns off the earth moisture of the punchy ‘Natural’, resplendent with its Franz Ferdinand guitar stabs, all urgent and thirsty you realise this is a set with something to say. A number artist would have open with this bank of noise, this way the listener is encouraged to work, to be within the record, to be enveloped, to saviour its subtle pallet.

‘Sun Songs’ is trippy, lazy, soaking you in the last rays of the sun, hungry for vitamin D, “San Francisco morning” Preston sings, he is suffering the morning after the night before, over indulged, you see it straight away, you see how this will unfurl.

It’s a densely textured piece, multi facitated, with a real sense of atmosphere, intense, you can constantly feel a storm coming, clouds mustering, and the brooding dark of his hush breathy vocals embellished with some nifty electronica. It could be a soundtrack to an art-house film, often drawing Royksopp or Kings of Convenience as a reference point. ‘Pat Conroy Beach Music’, with its soundscape of voices, not as pretentious as it sounds, and rainfall soundtrack, adds a break point, a casual intermission, before the album’s most conventional track, ‘FearNot’, tacked on the end as if to prove he can do normal, but chooses not to, and this record is the better for it. - Americana-UK


Preston Lovinggood
Shadow Songs
Team Clermont
Street: 02.25
Preston Lovinggood = Bon Iver + Billy Corgan
Before my first listening of Shadow Songs, I was preparing myself to sit through another guy with a guitar singing cliché love songs. What I got instead was a pleasant surprise of dreamy pop melodies with morbid lyrics, creating happy little ears that felt alright about listening to cliché love songs. The collaboration with studio producer Darrell Thorp might have been the key to this listening party, as the instrumentation behind the lyrics is what really got me grooving with it, and I think this album would have fallen short otherwise. The melodies and lyrics are fairly simple, and don't take many risks, but it works for what it is (take "Little Gods" as an example). "Sun Songs," the conclusion of the album, had me singing along to the chorus within one listening—a true sign of a hit. –Brinley Froelich - SLUG MAGAZINE


Discography

"No Baby" {single}
"Duncan" (Paul Simon cover) {single}
"Sun Songs" {Full-length}

Photos

Bio

Preston Lovinggood graced the world in early 2013 when he released his debut solo work, Sun Songs. Produced by Taylor Hollingsworth (Dead Fingers, Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band) this is a beautifully lo-fi presentation of Lovinggood's songs. He was the former front man for the late great Wild Sweet Orange and this work was his first step into the music world since that had passed on. Unknown to most was the parallel musical plain five of those tracks had already been living in.

Enter Shadow Songs.

Over the course of a year Preston recorded in studio with producer/engineer Darrell Thorp (Beck, Radiohead). They would work together in both Preston's hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, as well as, Los Angeles. The latter yielded him a creative freedom with his music that couldn't be found in the shackles of day to day life at home. Along with Thorp and an entourage of new musicians, Preston's songs were re-imagined and cast in a new light.

If Sun Songs can be likened to an up-close-and-personal documentary then Shadow Songs is its' equally impressive wide-screen sibling.

Listeners can experience both the releases and live shows as Preston has started hitting the road again!

Band Members