Lowell Thompson and Crown Pilot, Lowell Thompson and Crown Pilot | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Lowell Thompson and Crown Pilot, Lowell Thompson and Crown Pilot 

Album Review


(Bunkbed Records, CD)

Where we last left off (OK, where I last left off, more than two years ago), Lowell Thompson was a budding country-rocker — the workingman’s answer to Whiskeytown-era Ryan Adams, a young journeyman with a Heart of Gold and paint-spackled pants (Thompson’s pre-musical trade was as a housepainter). Back then, our troubadour was among those lucky performers seemingly destined for fame beyond Burlington’s drinking holes. But we all know how that story goes…

Lowell Thompson & Crown Pilot should be the record that breaks him nationally, but do bands even “break nationally” anymore? Noted alt-country rag No Depression is no more, and radio is a centralized jukebox of Disney pop and manufactured buttrock. Where does an earnest, twang-caked gem like Thompson’s latest fit in? It fits in your iPod, or CD player (if you still have one), that’s where.

To borrow a different “lens”: Remember when U.S. filmmakers stopped using America’s sweeping landscape as a cinematic frame and started making claustrophobic family dramas? Where’s today’s Sam Peckinpah? Or, more appropriately, where’s today’s Gram Parsons?

To be honest, Lowell and his band — which includes drummer Steve Hadeka, bassist Kirk Flanagan and Vermont axe legend Bill Mullins — aren’t as sloppy and/or stoned as vintage Parsons or Peckinpah, and that has its positives and negatives. Yet they’re certainly edgier than the vast majority of modern Americana acts. LT & CP is loaded with Stones-y swagger and Telecaster-fueled self-assertion. In other words, it rocks.

Take, for instance, “The Love You Had,” a scruffy-sad anthem that has everything a proper country-rock ditty needs: dejection, rebellion, hooks, slice o’ life lyrics and a kickass guitar solo. “Because the years run by / So slow behind your eyes / But you age so goddamn fast,” Thompson sings in his forthright but unfussy style. His work is clearly bearing the fruit of maturity and perhaps some frustration, which means his songs now sting a little. This is a good thing.

“Pauses” displays the most growth in Thompson’s songwriting. It’s a stuttering, minor-key tune that fuses Tom Petty’s more accusatory numbers with something out of the pre-“Emotional Rescue” Stones catalog. Oh, and this is one of two songs to feature Grace Potter — a bona fide Vermont singin’ star!

Bottom line: The mainstream music world badly needs records like this to bubble up from “Real America” — aka, Vermont. Ask yourself, do you really want the future of pop/rock/country music to be decided by Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus? So snap out of that “American Idol”- and corn-syrup-induced stupor, America, and buy Lowell Thompson & Crown Pilot.

Want to hear for yourself?

The group plays this Friday, July 10, at Charlotte’s Old Lantern with local surf-noir favorites Barbacoa and songwriter Ryan Ober.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Casey Rae-Hunter


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Album Review

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2022 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation