We’re lucky to have the Lost Dogs, and for any number of reasons. Comprised of Terry Scott Taylor, Michael Roe, Derri Daugherty and now Daugherty’s bandmate from the Choir, Steve Hindalong, the band is a super-group without, by and large, their day-jobs. Taylor and Roe revisit their bands Daniel Amos and The Seventy Sevens so infrequently that the Dogs could easily be considered their main gig. The Choir is releasing a new album this year, but you simply can’t expect a yearly release from them anymore. And yet, most of their former contemporaries hung their guitars on the wall-forks a long time ago. Those that have continued find themselves marginalized, sequestered to self-released projects that arrive and depart with no fanfare. Moreover, since the death of original fourth Dog Gene Eugene, the band has put out album after album of quality music that still felt slightly traumatized. CDs like Real Men Cry and Nazarene Crying Towel come across as these beautiful but mournful documents of a family after a tragedy. Hindalong’s entry to the group on The Lost Cabin And The Mystery Trees didn’t fully alleviate that feeling, but you could feel a shift happening.
I’m pleased to announce that, unequivocally, the latest collection Old Angel is by a band with their boots and their eyes toward the future, and “band” is the key word here. The concept of the album is a musical travelogue down Route 66, “The Mother Road”, “The Old Angel” and it stems from two Taylor songs , “The Glory Road” and “Dancing on the Devil’s Elbow” previously found on Daniel Amos albums. Because of that the album still weighs heavier on his contributions, but overall there is a greater sense of writing participation by all. Hindalong himself brings six instances of contribution including his solo-written “Wicked Guns” and there is an overall sense of four people at the very least bouncing ideas around, rather than one bringing the unrecorded album to the table.
The vocals once again are at full strength, with parts bouncing from one member to the next. The greatest strength of the Lost Dogs is their three-part harmonies, yet there have been some recordings where the vocals have been so compartmentalized you’d think they were just solo tracks recorded separately, which might be closer to the truth than I’d like to believe. Not here. Adding to that, the opening track, “Israelites And Okies,” is one of the best songs the band has produced in years — and that’s high praise. It has the pop feel blended with the subtle twang of a lost Asylum Records track from the 1970s and Taylor’s metaphorical lyrics perfectly set the scene of four musical friends ready to take this road trip down Route 66 — “If I’m gonna show you heaven, first I have to show you hell… Oh, Israelites and Okies, may we all travel well.” The backbone of rock and roll is here too, a sound that Roe has expressed in recent times has been less and less exciting to him. You couldn’t tell from his turn at the mic for “The Glory Road” in which the band really gels. Roe’s presence on Old Angel cannot be avoided as opposed to other outings where, mostly, he let his guitar do the talking.
The genesis of this album stems from the band’s tour down Route 66 in 2009 in an RV. Along the way they made the tourist stops, saw the sights and, clearly, took notes. A weariness about the tour is recalled in the Hindalong/Roe-written “Turn It Around”, as in, turn this RV around. If that is any indication of where the band was at the final stages of their time away, I feel almost sadistic saying it was worth it. It’s my belief that Old Angel reintroduces listeners to the band the Lost Dogs, gives up one of the best offerings they’ve ever made and positions them as one of the best Americana rockers you’ve likely never heard. We’re very lucky to still have the Lost Dogs, now more than ever.
Israelites and Okies – The Lost Dogs