Lost Dog Street Band/Glory/independent release
3.5 out of Five Stars
Lost Dog Street Band has always been an outfit that eschews pretense and instead, opts for the harsh realities of a hardscrabble existence. They began humbly enough as buskers who rode the rails and played whenever the opportunity presented itself, even when they were afforded minimal wages and forced to learn their lessons in light of hard-fought circumstances. Led by guitarist Benjamin Tod and his wife—vocalist and violinist Ashley Mae, they along with more recent recruit Jeff Loops, have managed to overcome Tod’s addiction, the couple’s temporary separation, and any number of other obstacles they’ve encountered on their way to finding salvation with renewal and revival.
Glory brings those triumphs to the fore, with songs that share their struggles in unflinching detail. Taken in tandem, it’s a concept album about drive and redemption, one that never minces words or minimizes the challenges they’ve been forced to face along the way. Tod reflects on his desperation and despair with rugged determination, leaving no doubt that he’s had to claw his way up from the mire and do the hard work needed to claim sobriety and find the will needed simply to survive.
Opening track “Until I Recoup (Glory 1)” establishes the premise:
They say it ain’t easy I know that’s the truth
That hard livin’ crown looks foolish on you
No, I ain’t leavin’ until I recoup” The flory I pissed away in my youth
Three songs on, “What Keeps Me Up Now” shares his uncertainty and provides his moment of reckoning:
Do I have what it takes to make it somehow
What if I fall on my face in front of the crowd
All my mistakes are reflected in shapes
That appear like a self-loathing shroud
As I recede in the charm of my grief I abound
What keeps me up now
Consequently, anyone looking for any hint of upbeat emotion will likely be disappointed. These are harrowing tales conveyed in music that’s as morose and melancholy as these tattered tales would naturally suggest. Even the rollicking ramble of “Fighting Like Hell To Be Free” contradicts the dire desperation that’s at the essence of this and practically every other offering. These are austere sentiments born from shattered circumstance. Whether it’s the regret and remorse echoed in the ragged refrain of “End With You,” the furtive and forlorn “Jalisco Bloom,” the deepening despair of “Losing Again” or the lonely lament “Beautiful Curse,” there’s an unerring sense of melancholia underscoring it all.
That said, Glory is an album that loops the listener in, courtesy of a decidedly down-home sound which gives these homespun homilies the humility and humanity they demand. Songs such as “Hayden’s Lament” and “I Believe (Glory 2)” sounds like they were sown from traditional tomes and heartland happenstance. As modest as it may be, Glory still manages to find nobility through resilience and resolve.