Low Cut Connie | Private Lives | (Contender Records)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars
At this stage, frontman/singer/songwriter Adam Weiner IS Low Cut Connie in the same way that Chrissie Hynde IS the Pretenders. Anyone who has seen the band’s somewhat chaotic, often unhinged, and extremely loud live shows knows that his wild man piano pounding and frantic stage antics eat up all the oxygen in the room. At times you don’t even know there are other musicians. Not surprisingly, it’s only his face on this disc’s cover.
Having to bottle all that intensity into a studio setting is a challenge. But Weiner effectively dials down the energy to write hooky, soulful and even melodic garage rockers on a series of increasingly more successful albums. The newest of which follows 2017/2018’s Dirty Pictures Parts 1 and 2 and is the group’s tamest and most crossover friendly to date.
It’s a diverse set. From the condensed (under two minute) three chord Iggy Pop-styled grinding of “Tea Time” to the melancholy piano and string enhanced ballad of the appropriately titled “Quiet Time,” Weiner covers plenty of stylistic territory. All 17 tracks play out in under an hour, but nothing seems rushed. According to his notes, the frontman realizes that his calling is “to write and sing for the underdogs…for the people who skirt the edges.” Perhaps to attract more of them into his tent, songs such as “Let It All Hang Out Tonight,” “Wild Ride,” the piano-free “Now You Know” and “It Don’t Take a Genius” slot into the more radio ready side of the Rolling Stones. He aims for early Elton John terrain on the laid back, piano-based reflection of the topical “Look What They Did” (“Little creatures get the shit end of the stick/Dark features get you shot in the head/They screw you all of your life/And even after you’re dead”) and the solo romantic “Run to Me Darlin’,” the latter fading out before its logical conclusion.
The finest moments are when he rocks an R&B groove as on “Take a Little Ride Downtown” and the opening Faces-influenced title track. As producer, Weiner mixes his voice up front and shows just how convincing a vocalist he is. That often gets lost in the band’s uninhibited live shows. And the expressive backing singers (eight names are listed in the credits) bring a bluesy vibe, injecting rootsy emotion to the anthemic “Help Me,” arguably the disc’s highlight.
Maybe there is a solo album in Weiner’s future. But for now, he’s content to lead Low Cut Connie through its paces on the affecting, rugged, yet at times surprisingly sensitive Private Lives, the act’s most accomplished and immediate release yet.