Songs of Fortune, Songs of Pain – Gary Lover (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

There is a strange and wonderful vibe to Gary Lover’s brand of post-country. It is almost as if the songs were written by an alien intelligence that studied country music from afar or a computer that gained true sentience and decided to write algorithms to create kooky campfire anthems. Or Lou Reed in a strange mood. (When was he never in a strange mood?)

What I’m trying to say is that the music is about 70% recognisable as country music and 30% odd. But it is that streak of oddness that also makes the album so great. Familiar enough that you know what is going on, unique enough that it throws you any number of sonic curveballs.

It comes as no surprise that Lover is also a crate-digging DJ, spinning discs by obscure and cultish roots musicians across the parishes of London under the moniker of Land of Luck. Plenty of those underground and archaic influences can be found in his songs. And humour too. Plenty of that.

There are times when he plays it straight, a track like I Want It is a fine song. But it is the more oddball creations such as Supreme Matcha and Coffee and its strange retro-carnival-lounge performer-mutant Nashville-vaudeville that win the day. Or Born and Feathered with its croaking, creaking, lilting, leftfield blues. Or Thousand Places’ busking brilliance. Or Hotter Than A Canteen’s blistering and blaring bonkers blasts or New Orleans meets Old West meets Arlo Guthrie meets the house band at an insane asylum.

Not everyone will get what Gary Lover does. But if you do then I’m sure that we can be great friends.

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