MO LEVERETT - OF ORPHANS & KINGS (*NEW-CD, 2008, Indie) Mark Heard-like folkster
Released two epic projects on Storyville Records (R.E.X. Records sub-label)
Mo Leverett has a gritty voice lends itself well to country and blues influenced music. And that is what you get on his new album, Of Orphans and Kings. The songs by the New Orleans musician sound as if they are born out of the tragedy of hurricane Katrina.
The listener will hear a contrast with songs of sorrow and loss that are sprinkled with joy and thankfulness. It is this contrast that connects you with the struggles Mo Leverett has experienced in his life over the last few years.
The songs that are scaled back to a few instruments are the ones that really shine, such as “Watch and Pray.” It is a Neil Young inspired arrangement of soulful singing with a gentle guitar strum The song becomes very emotive when the soulful background vocals chime in. Leverett borrows the lyrics to an old hymn and creates what is probably the best song on the album. In fact, I really desire more of the flesh and bone songs on the album. Another such song found later in the album is, “The Ditch,” where all you hear is the strum of his guitar interacting with his staccato voice singing the lyrics. It is another gem on the album. Overall, I would like to hear more of the bare bones songs from Leverett it makes his guitar playing and voice shine more.
The fourth song is a rousing country anthem, “Like Hell Inside,” the first song Leverett states he wrote after the hurricane. I really enjoy the burn a hole in your pocket harmonica by Buddy Greene. The song is packed with energy and gets your foot to tapping. There are several more songs interwoven throughout the album that have the up tempo country blues fell to it. It is what helps to give a more joyful and thankful emotion to balance out the other songs.
Overall, it is a well-balanced album with lyrical themes that are consistent and biblical. A Mo Leverett fan should enjoy this album.
By Robert W. Blake