Here’s a really fascinating concept for you, do a live record, with an audience, in an actual studio. I like the idea a lot. Think about it, you can get the immediate feedback from a small but enthusiastic audience, and you can get studio quality sound at the same time.
That’s exactly what the Australian group Lazy Eye did for their latest album, Pocket The Black. The three musician-songwriters, Evan Whetter on vocals, organ and harmonica; Erica Graf on guitar and backing vocals; and Mario Marino on drums and backing vocals, gathered together a number of friends and fans into Chapel Lane Studios in Adelaide, Australia on three separate nights and recorded this disc.
Since this was a studio job, the band had the opportunity to go back and fix the little mistakes or sweeten the mix, but from what I understand, each of these ten songs are exactly as they were recorded at one of the three shows. The band opted for the energy of a live response over the corrected to perfection that the studio safety net offered.
That’s a very brave band.
There’s a nice low sultry opening to Keepin’ From Lovin’. This is a cool way to kick things off – it eases us into what I’m sure will prove to be a unique experience. It’s takes a little time before Whetter’s organ takes the break. His vocals are quiet, the song is unhurried, but listen out for Graf’s guitar break, she really makes it sing.
Next up is the title track, Pocket The Black, and they start it off with a jazzy swing feel. The title refers to a pool game, and let’s face it, isn’t life one big game of pool? I love Graf’s guitar work on these first two tracks and it’s amazing how nice of a sound the three players make with no guest artists and no overdubs. It’s a good feeling album.
The old-school sounding Back The Way I Came follows. It’s got a good bass line and allows the organ to take the break. Marino’s drums set the rhythm allowing the organ to trade off with the guitar. It’s a fun song, and one that I bet they stretch out when not playing for an album cut.
Lazy Eye brings it down low and slow for the swampy sounding Let Me Down Easy. Whetter’s vocals are very good and the song has a darker feel to it. I think this one’s going to be showing up on Time For The Blues shortly.
The first of two instrumentals on the album, Mucho Jalapeño, as the name suggests, is a spicy number. Marino’s drums set the stage for Whetter’s keyboard work and Graf’s guitars.
Ah, you have to love the Bo Diddley riff that runs through Shack O’ Mine. It gives the song a nice energy and the lyrics give the song that throwback feeling. At 5:08, it’s the second longest song on the album and it gives each of the three musicians a chance to take the spotlight. Love this one.
Things slow down again with Do You Know How It Feels. Whetter takes his time on the vocals and as this song is the longest on the album at 7:10, it gives the entire band a chance to work the song into an emotional experience.
Whetter breaks out the harp for Treat Your Lover Right, a cool country blues number. There’s some nice vocal harmonies between he and Graf and I enjoy their technique. The song is a bit of a departure for them, and it really works. Maybe they’ll use the harp on a few other songs, as Whetter’s not a bad player by any means.
Graf’s guitar joins in with Whetter’s organ to bring in the gospel infused It Ain’t Right. The song has a lot of energy thanks to Marino’s driving drums. I think this is another one of their songs that would be right at home on Time For The Blues.
They end the album with their second instrumental, Swing For Marz. It seems fitting as the instruments have been the main force behind the album. Don’t get wrong, Whetter’s vocals are good, but it’s the tightness of the combo that makes this album, in my opinion anyway.
Lazy Eye is very jazz like in the way they read each other and move in and out. While this album was done as a “live, but in the studio” recording, I would love to see them when they are in free fall, in concert or at a festival, where they could really stretch out and play off of each other.
They’ve made a few stops in the United States while they were competing in the IBC’s and hopefully they will make another run through here soon. Or, better yet, I could convince someone to send me to Australia to investigate their blues scene.
If you’re interested in contributing to the latter of those two offerings, please drop me a line. In the meantime, we should probably just content ourselves to check out their website at https://www.lazyeyeband.com/ and see what they’ve got cooking album wise.