The Illegitimate Sons,
American Music
(independent, 2012)

Mix together a little Whiskeytown and Neil Young, a dash of Dylan and maybe just a pinch of the Old Crow Medicine Show, shake it all up and add a load of originality and you've got a rough idea of what the Illegitimate Sons sound like.

Here's the deal in a nutshell: these guys have it all. They are good.

Lead singer and guitarist Lee Myles writes the songs and has a way with a mystical lyric; on first hearing, his lyrics appear to be poster-children for obscure:

When your golden schemes and your wares are a silenced gun
shooting holes into hopes and liars til your fingers turn
sore and you ask the lord to take you in spite of all you done.

Where's the way and the light my candle burns reasonably
bright and the song that I love you will sing me tonight and
we'll bleed the hard times dry bleed the hard times dry.

Those words are the second and third verse of the opening cut, "Bleed It Dry," and are sung to the jaunty dance of jangly acoustic guitars, a banjo, mandolin and an organ. As I said, a touch obscure, but they are right and they open up to make the story clear and precise. That's the key thing about Myles' lyrics; you may not understand them at first because of the depth of the metaphorical patterns, but you'll feel them and they will become accessible. It is fine songwriting.

Lyrics, though, aren't songs. You have to consider the tunes and the arrangements also. How do the Illegitimate Sons do in those areas? Just fine. The arrangements mix acoustic and pedal steel guitars with accordions, mandolins and keyboards. The arrangements drive the tunes, keep them moving forward like a winning army, framing and enhancing the lyrics. The singing is also fine.

So far, the Illegitimate Sons haven't made it far beyond Indiana, their home territory. This album, their first, should widen their map and bring them a larger and very appreciative audience.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

8 December 2012

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