Any research you attempt to expound about Levi Lowrey will elicit facts such as: singer-songwriter from Dacula, Georgia signed to Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Artist Record Label. You’ll learn his instrumental journey began as a fiddle player, that he picked up guitar to lay a musical bed for his fiddle compositions and joined a band in high school, the core of which now remains Lowrey’s touring ensemble, the Community House Band, Jon Daws, Danny McAdams, Daniel McGill and Billy Wilkerson.
You’ll discover he’s performed extensively as a solo artist, headliner, and as the supporting act for well known names including Clay Cook, and Zac Brown Band. You’ll discover further that Levi has performed on many Zac Brown Band projects including the live album, “Pass the Jar: Zac Brown Band and Friends Live from the Fabulous Fox Theatre In Atlanta”, the exclusive compilation, “Breaking Southern Ground”, and Zac Brown Band’s most recent album, “You Get What You Give”.
What you won’t find is that Levi Lowrey also hails from a fan base as strong and as deep as his southern roots. And that’s the ground on which my path crossed tracks with “I Confess I Was a Fool.”
Blame it on the Red Solo Cup . . .
Really ! Raise your southern Red Solo Cups, folks, because it all started with a post at Country Music Pride’s facebook page announcing Toby Keith’s Red Solo Cup video. Suddenly, Jamey Johnson Red Solo Cuppers rose up from the south like a Tsunami wave in support of the “original” Red Solo Cup(per). Say what, I thought. Like, I had no idea. I’m just announcing a video here.
After many posts and many hours on facebook, what I discovered was this southern fan base is as friendly as they are supportive. We all came out of the tussle with an understanding of each other’s perspective, love of music, artists and work. We became “friends”, shared compliments, stories; and I was personally invited into a Sonia Leigh private facebook group (The FAM O’ LEIGH Street Teamers & Fan Club), a Levi Lowrey private facebook group (The Levites) and “friend requested” by Levi’s personal facebook page.
It was truly the most refreshing wave I’ve ever been hit by.
But that was just the beginning . . .
Two of these fans reached into their pockets and personally purchased for me a copy of Levi Lowrey’s “I Confess I Was a Fool” and Sonia Leigh’s “1978 December” album releases – simply because they wanted to share the outstanding talent of these two artists with as many people as they could. Honored by their gesture but feeling badly they spent their hard-earned dollars on me, I assured them I would request the albums from the label.
John Parker was on a personal “southern artist” mission and had recommended, bought and handed out copies of “1978 December” to strangers. I thanked him for the purchase he made on my behalf and suggested he gift it to someone else, that I would indeed be receiving a copy. Ian Donnelly had already made it to the post office before I could intercept his thoughtfulness. And while he patiently awaits this review, he’s simply glad that “I Confess I Was a Fool” would get another spotlight under which to shine.
But please don’t read this wrong. I was by no means ungrateful for their gestures. I simply felt awful they’d gone through such measures and expense when I could request the albums through the labels for review. Ian’s gift of “I Confess I Was a Fool” arrived in my mailbox and will always remind me of not just an album, an artist and a label, but of a group of intensely dedicated country music fans who are fed up with “real country music” not getting its place at the mic. John Parker was able to gift his purchase of “1978 December” to another recipient. And John went on to become a guest author here and penned a beautiful review of Jamey Johnson’s Cotton Eyed Joe’s performance in Nashville, TN on October 27, 2011.
I Confess “I” Was a Fool . . .
Well, “I Confess I Was a Fool” might be the title of Levi Lowrey’s gorgeous debut album, but after listening I couldn’t help but adopt it as a tagline to my own musical ignorance.
Released on Southern Ground Artist Inc. record label on July 26, 2011, “I Confess I Was a Fool” is a lyrically rich, vocally deep and acoustically graced musical story book, the kind you want to leave on your coffee table so everyone will notice. “I write from true experience,” Lowrey says. “And I find a lot of inspiration in sorrow, pain and stupid mistakes.” And nowhere is that sentiment more apparent than on the album’s first single “Hold On Tight”.
It may be the artist’s and the album’s debut and it may end the album; but it’s a track, a phrase and a feeling we all want to experience over and over and over again.
Asked during an interview here at Country Music Pride in August of 2011 if he had a song that he’s most connected to on the album, Levi didn’t hesitate. “Hold On Tight” he confesses. “It’s the story of me and my wife. Every word of it is true. It is the story of what we have gone through.” Levi shares elsewhere that “Hold On Tight is her favorite song.”
Let’s Travel Together . . .
But kick back, slip on your headphones and travel through the rest of the tracks of this brilliant compilation with me.
“The Problem With Freedom” is a toe-tapping infectious debut of a Southern Ground artist and album. Its intro is somewhat reminiscent of Glen Campbell’s Gentle on My Mind then explodes into a melody so captivating that the story just might slip you by until you find the hook and the chorus repeating in your head reminding you that “the problem with freedom after all / is that no one’s there to catch you when you fall.”
But don’t get too comfy with your two-step because “Act Like We Are Lovers” is going to knock you off your feet. Levi’s rich, creamy vocals are like opium here. You are completely mesmerized and taken to the depths of your own emotions and don’t know it. This absolutely gorgeous song will seduce you with the delicacy of its romantic fantasy that might ring true in a lot of “married lives” where life and love become regimented instead of romantic. But Levi delicately and deeply suggests “we’ve been chasing after life so hard that love has passed us by / too busy playing husband and wife / let’s just act like we are lovers tonight.” Enough said, this is seductive all around.
“Wherever We Break Down” sings from the depths of regret with lines of “but it never felt like home / tell me why I fought so long for this poor man’s castle”. The song continues weighing life’s options but the final decision in this toggle between vocal strength and harmonies is to forgo it all and settle down where “love will be the law of the land.” A beautiful story complimented by rich baritone, harmonic vocal diversity in the chorus and a back drum beat that drives the depths of this emotion to your core.
The confession of a tortured sinner in “Another Sunday Morning Hangover” is delivered with a strong mix sounding of Waylon, Kenny Rogers, Kristoffersen and honest soulful struggles. Lowrey shares “My wife was out of town, so I was a useless human being. I woke up on my couch and I was watching TBN for some reason. I guess I came home hammered and wanted to watch the televangelists. When I woke up I found a napkin laying on the coffee table, and I couldn’t even get up – it was the worst hangover I’ve ever had in my entire life. So I just leaned over, grabbed the napkin and started writing the song down.” This is a deeply reflective track that will no doubt become a favorite.
One of the many things to love about “I Confess I Was a Fool” is its lack of musical and/or vocal repetition. Just when you think you might have the album and the artist figured out, tracks like “No Good Dreaming Kind” explode with an undefinable blending of sound but as an undeniable masterpiece. Or Levi introduces a whole new side of his artistic brilliance as he tries to cleverly and dangerously talk his way out of trouble in “All American”. You’ll have to tune in to this unique tale to find out what happens to this smooth talker. A clever and stellar track.
The Vindication of Sin . . .
One of the strongest traits of the album is the depth and soulful honesty. And when you get to my favorite, “Whiskey and Wine”, you’ll understand. Man, not only can Levi tell a story but with such a sultry baritone and raw acoustic compositions. If ever there was reason for sin to be vindicated, “Whiskey and Wine” with its Celtic sounding sinful entanglement is it. You are so intoxicated by the totality of this track that by the time you emerge from the ethers of seduction you don’t much care whose done what. It’s simply too gorgeous to condemn.
“Yesterday’s Fool”, another favorite, so vocally rich, soulfully deep and lyrically visual you are “in” this story feeling nothing but intense empathy as he begs “don’t say good-bye / please just tell me you’ll see me tomorrow / tomorrow’s a far cry from forever / but I guess it’ll do.” With the hard-driving piano solo echoing the emotions of the story, this is truly a stellar performance.
“Rosalee and Odes” will put a tear in your heart as you try to catch your breath listening to this true story of love. ”It’s a tale of the older couple who lived next door to him (Lowrey) and enjoyed a lifetime of love, which turned to heartbreak when Odes passed away. ‘I was very hesitant to play it for Roselee,’ Lowrey recalls. ‘She’s still not over him. It took her a long time to even get to the point where she could get out of bed in the morning. But she loved the song.” And believe me, so will you.
“Space Between” is a musically gorgeous tribute to a very sad tale of desperately wanting to hold onto love. This bluegrass-folksy-Celtic combination of sound drives this emotional ballad deeper than the pain in Levi’s vocals. Complete artistic brilliance.
Nicely Said, Nicely Done . . .
“I Confess I Was a Fool” has been in the making since August of 2009 and hails from the deep, authentic soul of an artistically brilliant songwriter grateful to share life’s battle scars and bliss. It’s scientific proof of the effects of music on brain chemistry and physiology. You are captivated and transformed by its musical enchantment and you don’t even know it’s happening. Yet as instrumentally diverse as the album is, the music’s a complete complement – the lyric and vocal carry this masterpiece.
So, how does Levi feels now that “I Confess I Was a Fool” is complete and available everywhere, “I am absolutely thrilled it is finally finished. I could not be more pleased with the outcome,” he shares. “What I’ve been trying to do is write the next song better than the last one. Honestly, I get to do what I love for a living, my kids eat, my wife is provided for, and we’re able to help out others who are struggling. We’re very family oriented, and I think that’s about as good as it gets.”
Nicely said. Nicely done. Be certain to become a Levi Lowrey “fan” and add “I Confess I Was A Fool” to your playlist. It’s the only way to guarantee not to miss a thing this artist is up to because believe me, your “country’s” not complete until you’ve heard this one.