There’s that great scene in The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night where the band is riding a train with Paul’s grandfather, who’s nursing a broken heart. John leans in to Paul and says, “He’s a nice old man, isn’t he?” and Paul comes back with “He’s really…,” pausing imperceptibly, before finishing “…clean.” Calling a band tight is the music review equivalent of calling Paul’s grandfather clean. It’s damning with faint praise. But sometimes albums are good because the band is tight. It’s not always coded language. Such is the case with The Lucky Losers’ Blind Spot. It’s a solid album because the music is tight.
The Lucky Losers are singer Cathy Lemons and singer/harmonica-player Phil Berkowitz. The album is Americana-inspired, with an energy similar to the fictional country of the TV show Nashville. Think big polished pop songs that leeringly wink at country while firmly in a blues-rock camp. “Take the Long Road” is a great example of the sound. The drums and bass form a funky bed and Lemons handles everything else, ably assisted by some excellent guitar stabs and Berkowitz’s sax-like harmonica. “Supernatural Blues” begins with an almost Latin bassline and an urgent drum beat before quickly giving way to both Lemon and Berkowitz. The two vocalists fit together perfectly, sounding almost like one voice. The songs aren’t blues and aren’t quite country, but they’re wonderful.
The Lucky Losers got tight by touring. A lot. Their website has a map of where they’ve played, and it’s got more pins dropped than a tailor riding a mechanical bull. The relentless road work has created a cohesiveness between Berkowitz and Lemons that comes through the music the moment you hear it. “Make a Right Turn” is essentially Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” performed as a duet (and featuring a killer violin solo by Annie Staninec), which is no trivial task. “Alligator Baptism” features Berkowitz on lead vocals, with Lemons providing strong background support. The song is lifted by horns right out of the Stones’ “Bitch.” There’s a lot of elements, almost on top of each other, but no lines are crossed. The song breathes even as just about every bit of sonic space is filled. Not many artists could execute songs like this. They’re polished and intricate but also sweet and musical.
The Lucky Losers are tight. But that’s not all they are. They’re also musical. Their extensive performance schedule has given them a familiarity that allows them to execute their big, polished pop in a way very few bands could manage. Blind Spot is an album every bit as impressive as Paul’s grandfather’s cleanliness.
Blind Spot by The Lucky Losers
Label: Dirty Cat Records
Released: May 18th, 2018
Running Time: 52:11
*Lucky Losers Featured Image -Photo by Nino Fernandez