A new look. A new design. Yesterday morn, after contemplating the move for several months, I trashed the industrial color scheme that’s accented this blog for the past five or so years in favor of something a tad more austere. In years gone by, I’d likely use the change as a metaphor in an essay about getting back to the basics, namecheck Dusty Springfield’s “A Brand New Me” – and then crank out a themed Top 5 of some kind.
Midway through the morning, however, I began listening to the latest self-titled EP by LoneHollow, aka Damon Atkins and Rylie Bourne, while I worked. Backed by a band that features Jon E. Conley on guitar, Tim Denbo on bass, Dave Racine on drums, and Gabe Lee and David Dorn on keyboards, their sound is twang-filled swamp rock, southern, bluesy, outlaw and real, and best played loud. (For those of a certain age, they may remind you of the Rossington-Collins Band, but with a more overt country influence.) Once I put it on, in other words, there was no turning back. LoneHollow deserves more than one slot in a five-slot post.
In my 2019 take on their last EP, which found Atkins and Bourne splitting lead vocals, I opened with “swampy southern rock meets outlaw country” and noted that “his is a voice brimming with soul; and hers is a voice that pierces the soul.” This time out, however, she handles all the lead vocals, while he works wonders with his guitar.
The set opens with “Not Today,” about a woman delivering a comeuppance to someone who deserved it – all that’s left is disposing of the body. The second track is a cover of “Slide Over” by Kylie Rae Harris, who died in a 2019 auto accident at the age of 30. The original version, found on her 2013 Taking It Back EP, is tight but somewhat light; LoneHollow, however, ups the bluesy undercurrent. Though it’s not a great comparison, it reminds me of how George Thorogood recast Hank Sr.’s “Move It On Over” into an FM staple.
A cover of Sarah Spencer’s “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” about the aftermath of a failed relationship, follows. (Although it share the same title and theme, it’s not the classic country song by Charlie Louvin, which was written by Bill Anderson.) Bourne, whose voice possesses equal measures grace and grit, captures the evolving emotional gradients of the lyrics. It’s an affecting performance.
“Love Her” casts Bourne, who cowrote the song with Angela Rozman, as a cheating spouse’s other woman. The story is straight from Country Music 101, I suppose, but that matters not; if anything, it’s nice to hear someone carrying on the tradition.
The EP concludes with the set’s piece de resistance, “Lonesome and Alone,” which Bourne cowrote with songwriter Tony Mullins. It would be at home on Hank Jr.’s classic The Pressure Is On LP, similar in tone to the title track and “Weatherman.” Driven in equal parts by Bourne’s searing vocals and Atkins’ deft guitar work, it pushes you into a cold and empty room, where – whether you want to or not – you bear witness to the remnants of a broken heart.
Really, the only criticisms I have are minor and not music-related. First, adding the new EP to my library initially lumped it in with the 2018 EP, which was also self-titled. (A quick metadata edit fixed that.) Second, five songs simply isn’t enough.
In short, seek out this latest self-titled set – it’s available to stream on all the usual suspects – and turn up the volume.
The track list: