Big Sky’s “alt-psych” rockers Dammit Lauren and the Well recently brought out their first album, and it’s chock-full of original material with inventive storytelling. All members contribute their ideas to the songs and get credit for them.
By combining varied backgrounds, they create a heady brew born of country, jazz, bluegrass and rock. And don’t forget pop hooks. Compelling singer and bassist Lauren Jackson fronted a country-rock group and performs solo from time to time, singing her own country songs. Guitarist Brian Stumpf has a jazz and contemporary music degree, and also co-founded the band with Jackson.
Mandolinist Ben Macht has played with assorted bands, and he and Stumpf have been a musical duo for almost a decade. Macht fleshes out the band’s sound with oodles of effects from his huge pedal board (for example, a Wurlitzer on “Jack Slade” and an organ on “Bad Dream”). Rounding out the group is drummer Casey Folley, who, besides providing kick-ass percussion, multi-tasks as the Beehive Basin Brewery owner.
“Jack Slade” recounts the last days of the Montana rebel who was hanged in 1864 by vigilantes. The well-told story starts with a slow-rockin’ beat and chunky guitar chords. Jackson spits out the lyrics in her street-wise voice – “scarin’ kids, crashin’ bars, he’s startin’ bloody fights, his days are numbered here …” I like it!
“The Storm” is equally atmospheric. Quiet finger-pickin’ and spooky cymbal taps introduce Jackson’s sultry sound and a feeling of dread. She wrote the lyrics while watching coverage of flooding in Houston a few years ago.
“The Well” features mandolin tremolos, and “Hoping for the Best” has long bass lines and quiet cymbal touches. Jackson overdubs herself harmonizing on ”Truck Stop Waltz” and “Heaven,” which has an infectious refrain.
You’ll find much more to like on this effort! Visit the band on Facebook.
– Mariss McTucker