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L SHAPE LOT— Blackwater Sessions

by Ryan Snyder

Diverse coastal influences abound in Blackwater Sessions, the first album in three years by the formidable Wilmington country quartet L Shape Lot. The band’s instrumental prowess has served them well in their “one fan at a time” live performance philosophy and the band’s stabilized lineup only engenders an even greater degree of hard-to-the-gut sonic detail.

Guitarist Alex Lanier races through most of the album with a furious, Al Casey-style surf guitar with a decided Nashville twang, augmenting the hum of Casey’s reverb with ninja-quick runs. His flurry of notes at the outset of opener “Down to Ride” cements it as a radar gun-dissing travelogue before a word is ever sung, and how he finds the space to wring out a few deft string bends amidst it all is mystifying. If there’s a song title that even suggests fast fingerwork, it certainly will be found (see: “Run Johnny Run” and “Backroads”). The album’s other predominant littoral characteristic is the surfy, yet sturdy voice of the band’s primary songwriter and singer Eric Miller, whose vocal style is closer to the contemporary outlaw sound of a Hayes Carll than the hyperbolic twang of Luke Bryan or Justin Moore. He sings about taking stock in the simple, enjoyable things in life — playing cards at sundown, chasing down the one that got away and driving with no particular destination in mind as an experiential device — as effortlessly as he invokes cosseted hymnals. The topics are well worn in the country sphere, but L Shape Lot’s unpretentious familiarity is just another aspect that will keep winning them fans.

77/100

L Shape Lot will play five sets at FloydFest this weekend in Floyd, Va.

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