On the face of it, I have very little in commom (if anything) with Benjamin Tod, lead singer/songwriter with Lost Dog Street Band. He’s genuinely a gun-toting, heavily tattooed, whiskey slugging, train-hopping, vintage clothes wearing country singer from Kentucky, who probably hunts his own dinner and skins it himself afterwards. I’m a skinny vegan from the middle of England who hates guns, tattoos, hunters and has never even been to Disneyland, let alone some backwood swamp in the deep south. Yet, despite these obvious differences, I am drawn to his music and find myself listening to him (along with his partner Ashley Mae) on a pretty much daily basis!
Now, this is “country” but if you think it’s the sanitised, commercialised, over-produced syrupy
nonsense that Nashville has produced and forced down our throats for years, think again.
This is raw, honest, cobbled together music, produced by people who live in trailers, small farms or on the road, sleeping in freight cars or bunk-houses, as they travel around picking up work where they can. And you know what? I love it!
Lost Dog’s latest offering, Weight Of A Trigger, has arrived and if you’re familiar
with any of their previous work, you won’t be surprised to hear it’s full of self-doubt,
self-loathing and genuine sadness. Ben really does pour his heart out, to the point where
in a recent interview with the awesome Anthony Simpkins of GemsOnVHS, Ashley says that there are
songs that Ben writes that are just too personal and painful for her to play. I look forward to
the out-takes album in a few years then! Instrumentation is sparse, Ben on guitar/vocals,
Ashley on fiddle/vocals, and a few friends come along to provide pedal steel, double bass etc
on some tracks. For a DIY effort (it seems to be self-released) it’s pretty well recorded, produced and mastered by the band themselves in Nashville. I got my copy through a very large, online outlet, but I think it’s available from their website or GemsOnVHS.
Anyway, there are 10 melancholy, haunting and sometimes tragic songs on here, that pull at the
heartstrings (no dead dogs though) and deal with all sorts of issues that Ben has had thrown at him over the years (addiction, losing his best friend, etc), While it would be easy to write this off as a depressing Alt-Country album with some very dark subject matter and some self-pitying lyrics such as “I’m tired of running from my past / It’s a race that you’ll finish last / These scars on my skin, They define who I am / And it’s always and never again” from ‘Without A Doubt’ make a fairly obvious statement about Ben’s previous lifestyle, something which he seems to be desperately trying to stay away from these days. I hope he does, as I’d hate to see another great talent self-destruct.
If you like country (not western) Americana, Folk, Blues, Bluegrass, Old Timey or any other
rootsy sub genre, I would urge you to find this out and buy it. Lost Dogs need a home.
The self released Weight Of A Trigger is out now.