3.5 out of 5 stars
Since this is multi-instrumentalist Landry’s third solo release, it should be no surprise that it, like its predecessors, sounds little like the rollicking folk/mountain music of his other gig with the Grammy winning Old Crow Medicine Show. But this self-titled album also doesn’t share much of the occasional retro urban noir that was so appealing on his first two projects, especially 2007’s The Ballad of Lawless Soirez.
Rather, Landry turns pensive and introspective on these 10 tracks. Titles such as “Bad Love,” “Lost Love,” “Waiting for Your Love” leave no doubt as to what is on his mind. If the songwriter has had fulfilling, rewarding relationships, they aren’t represented here. But he takes pains not to judge either of the protagonists, often preferring to balance both sides without pointing fingers. Musically these ballads stay firmly in a musty, swampy, southern Americana groove enhanced by Landry’s warm, emotional vocals.
A few tracks like the Neil Young-inspired “Just Like You” (the debut single), and the sweet, fiddle and Mexicali horn enhanced, Tex-Mex “Fennario” catch your ear on the first spin. But generally, songs such as the heartbreaking “Take This Body,” featuring vocals by tour mate Laura Marling, and the melancholy “Lately Right Now” creep up on you after a few listens. He uses religious imagery (“I tried to exalt you/as you crucified me”) on the teary “Emily” that starts off acoustic and gradually builds as the memories of the girl swirl around his head.
Self-produced, engineered and recorded primarily in his south side of Nashville apartment, the downbeat approach feels as personal as if you are sitting on a sofa across from Landry as he opens up his innermost thoughts. It’s quietly hypnotizing music, unconcerned with commercial trends and miles away from the more hoedown revival of Old Crow.
But these songs, and especially Landry’s honest performance, resonate long after the last note fades. They beckon you back to further absorb his heartfelt, occasionally comforting, musings on the trials and tribulations of romance-gone-sour. It’s a subject most of us have experienced, can easily relate to and one that Landry explores with taste and subtle, refined passion.