Les is back, and she's back with a fervor and a passion that sweeps you off your feet. It has been a long absence. We have waited nine long years since her last recording, 2001's Borrowed and Blue (here). And she does not disappoint.
Lonesomeville is an Americana mix of blues and soul-tinged country. There is plenty of loving—hard loving, soft loving, lustful loving—in all kinds of places and spaces—on a train, in bed, on the road, and on the sly.
And then there is the voice—sometimes tough, sometimes tender, and sometimes only rough around the edges. Les has a special affinity for the blues. And she writes them as if she's lived every last line. The stories come alive in a bluesy caress backed by that inimitable slide guitar.
So what about the songs? The recording opens with the thrilling My My My, which grabs you by the throat and never lets go: "then he caught me/oh he caught me/fought me to the bitter end." There's no separating the girl in the song from the hot-blooded passion she craves. And there's no separating the listener from the melody. Who would want to leave this kind of groove, all bluesy and sexy and alive? It is that kind of tune.
Les surrounds herself with some of the Boston area's best musicians: Kevin Barry (Mary Chapin Carpenter; Paula Cole) on guitar, Paul Kochanski (Swinging Steaks) on bass, Andy Plaisted (The Giant Kings) on drums and percussion, Mike Dinallo (The Radio Kings) on guitars, Jimmy Ryan on mandolin, and David Ogden and Mark Cunningham on backing vocals. This band of musicians strut their stuff on the driving percussion and guitar-laden sound of Long Hard Train. It's a musical tour de force. Les's voice begins as a sultry purr and rises to the beat of the train pounding the tracks.
Lonesomeville sits at the heart of the recording. Here love places one in a quandary—you can quench your thirst for it, or break your heart in the process. Les's sexy vocals walk the tightrope with equally scintillating accompaniment on electric guitar by Kevin Barry. Lonesomeville is looking like a place one could live in for a while…
Sam & Alice is a country rocker, telling the story of a couple's love, which takes them "around the bed on all four sides." Jimmy Ryan on mandolin is simply magnificent.
The recording ends with the bedtime prayer, As I Sleep. And what a glorious way to fall asleep as Les's voice caresses the lyrics, "free at last, free at last."
Lonesomeville takes us through lonely hotel rooms, long, hard train rides, honky tonk highways and the bedrooms of hard living lovers. The lucky listener gladly goes along, following Les Sampou on this journey, getting lost in the sexy sway of her voice, and in the tales of love and lovers along the way. Lonesomeville delivers the very best of Les Sampou. Country and blues have never been so luscious and deeply satisfying to listen to. Les hits a bull's eye in the land of lonesome; in the land of love.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society and Roberta B. Schwartz.
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