While some folk might have caught a glimpse of Lera Lynn at Celtic Connections when she supported Sturgill Simpson most will probably know her through her work on the television series, True Detective. Just as season one of the series raised the profile of The Handsome Family when their song, Far From Any Road, was used as the theme music, Lynn has benefited from her association with the show. Several of her songs (some co-written with Roseanne cash and T Bone Burnett) appeared throughout the episodes while she also appeared as a “shadowy” bar singer. Folks expecting however a rerun of the languid country tinged songs that populated her last album, 2014’s The Avenues, might be somewhat surprised by the direction she’s taken here.
Resistor features Lynn and co-producer Joshua Grange playing most of the instruments on a set of songs that creep from the speakers, a bit like that Japanese ghoul from The Ring. There’s an emphasis on percussion and reverbed guitars creating an atmosphere that rumbles and roots around in that dark American hinterland; neon lit motels, dark highways and ghosts on the highway. There are moments that recall Twilight Hotel (the duo that featured Brandy Zdan), a whisp of the doomed romanticism of Chris Isaak and, on the opening Shape Shifter, a nod to bands like The Breeders.
Shape Shifter actually does the album a disservice. It’s a fair enough song with a fine guitar solo midway through but its robotic rhythm and routine verse/chorus shoehorned into a radio friendly groove doesn’t really cut it. The following songs fall into the same trap. What You Done with its lead bass line and Goth like darkness, Drive’s would be highway drama and Cut + Burn’s melodrama are songs that just don’t quite cut the mustard. Things look up with Run The Night, the instrumentation is enhanced with some acoustic guitars in the mix while the percussion is more restrained, enhancing the song as opposed to dominating it and from here on in the album just gets better.
For The Last Time is a well paced and fully realised version of Lynn’s noirish dreamsongs. Her vocals are allowed to ride above the song and the guitars coil around her with a fine degree of menace. Fade Into The Black approaches that juncture where Roy Orbison and David Lynch intersect while Slow Motion Countdown is a dream like slow waltz tinted with an old time veneer reminiscent of The Walkabouts’ Prague wanderings. Scratch + Hiss continues in a similar vein, Lynn a chanteuse here, simpering over an opalescent backdrop of shimmering guitars.
Overall the album shows that Lynn isn’t one to rest on her laurels, some of her choices here somewhat daring in their refusal to go down a gravel road that would see her as just another singer wanting to sound like Lucinda Williams. However some of the songs lack passion while others show some promise. You can make your own mind up as she is touring the UK in May, all dates are here