The Lawsuits – Darleen

The Lawsuits - Darleen

Leading off a with the stellar freak folk of  “Someone Else Blues”, then rolling into the trad blues lite of “Shooting Star”, The LawsuitsDarleen covers a ton of ground.  Perhaps narrowing that ambition into a clearer direction would benefit the band.  Leader Brian Dale Allen Strouse shows fine form in some of the self-produced album, but other parts lack focus and passion.

The previously mentioned “Someone Else Blues” is a Brian Jonestown Massacre shambly folk strut that wins the day with its witty lyrics and wondering acoustic figure.  But “Shooting Star” sounds terrible, like much of the album, due to live recording and no mixing.  The solo is buried too deep and its traditional blues sound is lacking passion, but it does feature a nice lead vocal from Vanessa Winters.  “Beautiful Anger” is a slow acoustic number that is well balanced and featuries a great harmony turn from Strouse and Winters.  “I’m Still In Love With You” is a simple ode to love presented in an equally simple upbeat manner.  The song is sunshiny in tone and warmth.  “You’re a Star” is a crowded number, with busy percussion and layers of vocals.  This track is unique with its shuffle beat and simple chorus.

“Summer Lea” is a Ryan Adams-y country rock number that shows yet another musical style.  “Sailor” seems to be the album’s centerpiece until the music stops and a weird message is played in a distorted voice. This is truly disconcerting and disappointing.   “Talk You Down” is a funny and quick country jam while  “Mermaid” has a nice shuffle with dark undertones.  But again, the lack of true mixing hurts the track as it could be rendered much more dramatic in craftier hands.  “Lean on Leen” has a flamenco feel before going anthemic with a Foo Fighter’s style in the chorus.  “Hot Mamma Blues” is a sped up trad blues, with a neat little guitar riff that is unfortunately buried beneath everything else.  Closer “When I’m Gone” is effective as it contains a nice vocal turn and decent production.

I know it sucks to harp on the poor production of a self-released, self-made album.  To some it may read as a low blow.  However, The Lawsuits Darleen does show plenty of promise.  The band is tight, and Mr. Strouse’s songs can be truly affecting.  His voice, mixed with that of Vanessa Winters, works as they intertwine in the harmonies but on some songs that’s about all you can hear; on others you can barely make out the guitar.  The total lack of dynamics clearly hampers the album. Perhaps the next release from the group will better represent their talents, because there is little doubt that it’s here –  Darleen makes that clear.

Self Released