Nashville's sound of southern rock and roll, country ballads, and raw blues comes to Burlington!
“This is my grown-up record,” declares Patrick Sweany about Daytime Turned to Nighttime, his seventh full-length record and latest for Austin label Nine Mile Records.
In between long tours, Sweany and his wife bought their first home together. They spent all of their free time renovating it, while Sweany crammed writing and recording in the downtime. “I’d been going nuts listening to certain records while I sanded the walls and pulled out crooked nails: Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billie Joe,” Allen Tousaint’s work with Lee Dorsey, and the record Bobby Charles did with the band.”
Writer Andrew Leahy caught up with Sweany during this period and interviewed him for a feature in American Songwriter Magazine. Sweany told Leahy, “You can only write so many songs about living in the aftermath of something” (a reference to Sweany’s last album, Close To The Floor, which was inspired by the death of several family members). “This new album is more about looking forward – about growing up and taking responsibility.”
The 40 year old Nashville singer/guitarist continues to work with local producer and engineer Joe McMahan, who lent his talents to Close To The Floor (2013) as well as That Old Southern Drag (2011). “Joe’s been my go-to guy since I moved (to Nashville) from Akron, OH. I really admire his sense of space, and he helps recruit and communicate with the players we need for each project.”
In this case, McMahan and Sweany chose Ron Eoff (bass) and Bryan Owings (drums) as the rhythm section. “These guys have remarkable resumes,” says Sweany, “and are the funkiest, most soulful players you could ask for.” And rather than using horns or keyboards to fill in the textures, singers Alexis Saski and Laura Mayo were brought in to give the record that late 60s/early 70s classic southern rock and soul sound.
And what does Patrick say to longtime fans accustomed to the shout-singing style and raw blues tones of his earlier Dan Auerbach-produced records? “There’s a little bit of that here,” he says, “but that’s not all of who I am in 2015. I’m proud that I can now sing and play a simple country ballad and not feel that it’s a great risk, or I’m playing a character.”
“Look, I’m always going to be a rock and roller. I’m always going to make the live show as exciting and entertaining as possible. But I’ve spent a long time hollering at folks, and there’s more to my music than that.”
He continues, “There’s been no great revelation. I’ve been insanely lucky so far. So you don’t question why you do it, you just do it. You get older. You worry. You lose sleep. You deal with it. Break something, deal with it. You hurt somebody, you deal with it. You don’t run away from it, you make it as right as you possibly can. You stick with it. You see it through. You act like a big boy.”
“I first heard Lowell at a private party in Washington, D.C. I immediately stopped talking to people and listened, really getting into his superb guitar playing, excellent voice and songs.
Then I got him as opener for some gigs with my band the Rumour, who were equally impressed. Listen to him.”
“When it’s time to make a record, you can go to a studio or you can take your friends and set up in somebody’s house. If there are cemeteries to the north and south, the neighbors are dead anyway, and so who cares if you play all night? Not long ago, Lowell Thompson went to a house in Burlington, Vermont’s Old North End and stood in the kitchen with his guitar, looked out over the microphone and gas range to his regular band in the little living room, and recorded Stranger’s Advice just as they played it: drums, guitars, bass and vocals.
They’ve played together a lot. He’s played a lot for a lot of years – with his band, with other bands (Rayland Baxter, Barbacoa, etc.), by himself (touring as Graham Parker’s handpicked opener). He’s moved around, back and forth to Texas to California. But he orbits back to his native Vermont and the same musicians who’ve backed him on stage for a decade and who set up their instruments in the living room to make Stranger’s Advice.
These songs are pure pop, charging along with crashing choruses, guitar countermelody, and surprise changes (spoiler alert: the solo acoustic opener doesn’t stay solo or acoustic). They zig-zag away from pigeonhole – the plaintive singer-songwriter tune becomes a caveman-rhythm dirge before taking a honky-tonk turn.
Lowell’s easy voice moves seamlessly between spitty indictment (Rose Petals), moody defenselessness (Sunday Morning), and breathless rave-up (Honey It’s True). He merges styles without drawing attention to his clever arrangements. It sounds like good music.”
-Creston Lea, Author of Wild Punch, Musician, Luthier.