An interesting story here – this album, from Buffalo, Missouri native Lyal Strickland, was originally recorded in 2013, but he decided to resuscitate it, re-release it and tour behind it. And by doing so, he’s reaching out to bigger audiences, which is standing him good stead because this is some fine music from the heartland. Another one of these wonderful artists you just happen to find a CD by and when you hear it, it’s a revelation. And any album that features players such as members of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils and the late, great Lou Whitney, you know it’s bound to be good.
Pure Americana, melodic and warm; lyrically thoughtful and full of feel. That doesn’t say it’s all acoustic guitars, muted bass and brushed-drum shuffle rhythms. On “Not For Me”, a full band kicks in with heavy guitars, beefy Hammond organ and a sound that reminds me of (the incredible) Freedy Johnston – as do many of the songs, by virtue of Strickland’s voice, which is a raspier version of Freedy’s – same kind of delivery, etc. However, there is plenty of the aforementioned acoustic-based tracks, which in many ways, feel like daily observations of life in a small mid-Western town. It’s a storyteller’s album. “You’ll See” is a world-weary song of hope and redemption; “In Ten Years” is a soft, open letter to a love gone awry and “Every Time It Starts To Rain” is a perfect opener to this collection that’s quickly making repeated playings on my stereo.
This has been a time of discovering and marveling at new singer-songwriters who have a sense of lyrical skill and melodicism and Lyal Strickland is another to be added high on that short list.
Balanced On Barbed Wire is available now