Sunday, July 23, 2017

Korby Lenker: “Thousand Springs” (2017) CD Review

Korby Lenker’s new album, Thousand Springs, was recorded at various locations in Idaho, where he grew up. Places he has a connection to. And perhaps that’s one reason this album (his seventh) has a passionate and personal feel. Other portions of the album were recorded in other states, Lenker traveling to different places to record contributions by several musicians. And that might be part of the reason for the relaxed and playful vibe the album has at times (like on “Book Nerd”). Thousand Springs features all original music, written or co-written by Korby Lenker, and the writing, for me, is what really makes this CD one worth paying attention to.

The album begins gently, easing us in with “Northern Lights,” a song written by Korby Lenker and Jon Weisberger. This is a pretty and intimate tune, and it works so well to pull us into the album. Its chorus has something of a hopeful sound, which I appreciate. “All the way to Chicago/Wonder what will I find/And I’m leaving behind/The stars and the northern lights.” And I love these lines: “The night sky’s a chandelier/Windshield makes a frame/Radio I turned down low/I thought I heard your name.” The second song, “Friend And A Friend,” also finds him on the road. It’s a song about traveling and human connections (what else do we need?). “You wake up feeling low/And then you get behind the wheel and go/Some days it’s wide open/Some days it’s a dead end.” And check out these lines: “This is the life, the life I’ve chosen/Not even I can see the cards I’m holding/And if tonight doesn’t go my way/Well, there’s always tomorrow.” “Friend And A Friend” was written by Korby Lenker and Molly Tuttle (Tuttle also provides harmony vocals on this track). I will be adding this song to my road trip play list.

“Nothing Really Matters” is a delightful, happy-sounding tune with mandolin, banjo and fiddle. The vocal approach reminds me a bit of some of Paul Simon’s material. “Nothing really matters when I’m here with you/Clouds rush in, the sky’s still blue/Storm is just passing through/Nothing really matters when I’m here with you.” This one was written by Korby Lenker and Stoll Vaughn. Annie Staninec is on fiddle, John Reischman is on mandolin, and Molly Tuttle plays clawhammer banjo. This is one of my favorite tracks.

“Book Nerd” was written by Korby Lenker, and features Kai Welch on accordion, and Chris “Critter” Eldridge on baritone ukulele. This is one that has a very playful feel, and of course I appreciate the literary references. However, my friend Jan will flip out if she hears that line about To Kill A Mockingbird. This one is followed by another of my favorites, “Uh Oh,” written by Korby Lenker and Holiday Mathis. I love the vocal approach here, and Caroline Spence provides harmony vocals.

“Father To The Man” is another happy-sounding pop-folk tune, this one written by Korby Lenker and Amy Speace. Amy provides harmony vocals on this track, and Korby plays ukulele. “Everything was spinning/But in the middle of the room/I saw my younger self/To my surprise, he recognized me right away/He said, ‘I know you well.’” Perhaps the best song on the album is “Love Is The Only Song,” written by Korby Lenker and John Martin. I can’t help but love this beautiful song. Certainly it doesn’t hurt that this track features cello, an instrument I love. That’s Mai Bloomfield on cello. Angel Snow provides backing vocals. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “Love, it has no pride/And love is the only reason/In this world gone wrong/When everything else is gone/Love is the only song.” And it’s always good to hear someone tell us, “But remember, it’s been like this forever/You are not alone/We’re all in this together.

CD Track List
  1. Northern Lights
  2. Friend And A Friend
  3. Nothing Really Matters
  4. Last Man Standing
  5. Book Nerd
  6. Uh Oh
  7. Stormy Seas
  8. Father To The Man
  9. Late Bloomers
  10. Love Is The Only Song
  11. Mermaids
  12. Wherever You Are 
Thousand Springs was released on July 14, 2017.


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