EP REVIEW: LEXINGTON FIELD- ‘Redwood’ (2016)

It’s very simple. It’s called Fiddle-Rock.
LexField
 Now I have been a fan of this band for a loooong time. Pretty much from their earliest days so don’t be expecting any sort of unbiased review here as impartiality goes out the window when Lexington Field release another record. On first hearing Redwood I wasn’t surprised or shocked at all. I just had that knowing smug feeling that I knew I was onto a winner when I first heard them many moons ago.
Lexington Field
Formed back in 2009 in San Diego, southern California the band have previously released four albums, Old Dirt Road, Poor Troubled Life, No Man’s War and Greenwood and all have came garnered the same critical praise from both the celtic-punk and wider punk/rock music media. They have played and toured solidly and to call what they do unique is no way giving them enough credit!
(1. Old Dirt Road- 0:00 2. Poor Troubled Life- 3:10 3. Rest of Our Days- 8:04 4. Duke of Green- 11:40 5. American Crow- 15:52 6. Pioneer- 18:21)

Lexington Field play a mixture of music blending genres from country and Americana as well as punk rock and not to be forgetting a massive dose of traditional Irish music with a expert fiddle player right slap bang in the middle. The band call what they do ‘fiddle rock’ and is as good a description as I could give in two words. We reviewed Greenwood last Christmas (check the review here) and had this to say

“Thirteen tracks and forty minutes gives the songs plenty of time to develop and Beau’s great vocals and lyrics stand out giving Lexington Field that extra bit more.”
So at risk of repeating myself I have to say that once again Lexington Field have hit the heights with this release. Seven tracks that sail in at just a few seconds under half an hour and is over far far too quickly. Over a couple of weekends in early 2016 the band went up to Anza in California to record at Matt Maulding’s (formerly of the brilliant celtic-punk band Brick Top Blaggers) Weathertop Studio. There the band took six songs from their history and stripped them right down and basically rewrote them and are presenting them back to us now.

Released on July 8, 2016 the EP begins with ‘Old Dirt Road’ from their debut album of the same name. Where as the original was the standout track of that album and is the song that I think of when I reach out to put that album on. The energy remains exactly the same but without the electric guitar thrashing away and that is some achievement I tells you.

“Time flies by so fast
It’s hard to stop and think
With all these peaks and valley, and all the sand that lets us sink
One thing’s for sure
I won’t give up on my end to be a fighter, be a fighter

I don’t mind traveling down that old dirt road again
Cause I’ve got time to waste to go back where it all began
Though some might say I’m holding on, I‘m holding on too long
Well,don‘t you mind. Just don’t you mind

I feel so wasted
Maybe time can make it right
Set the stage for a comeback
Set the stage for a fight
The best defense I can put up on my end is to be a fighter, be a fighter”

Lexington FieldFollowing this is ‘Poor Troubled Life’ which again is taken from the album of the same name and once again is possibly the stand out track from that record. The music is exemplary and though I can imagine a few punk rock snobs not quite getting it I always say man cannot live by punk rock alone! Usually on a Lexington Field record the upbeat music belies the often darkness of the lyrics but here in acoustic mood it seems to fit a lot more easily. The music may be slow but plenty to admire and love especially here on this song with the whistle that sounds great (and shhh don’t mention the electric guitar on their supposed acoustic record!!!).

“It’s been too long, I feel disconnected
Empty bottles numb my soul
There’s still a chance for me to come back around
A chance for me to mend my broken life

And I can taste all that glory
All the love, the love I have around
It lifts me up poor troubled life
It lifts me up

I found it so hard to breathe
Gonna throw it all away
Without this troubled life
Could I live another day”

Next up is ‘Rest Of Our Days’ which comes from No Man’s War and here takes one of Lexington’s most obvious celtic-punk songs and channels into a lovely slice of Americana/country folk. The superb fiddle playing from the original is still there and lifts the song to the heavens with Beau’s great voice giving it all he can.

“I won’t cry and show my weakness if I ain’t got one
No I can’t cry and let that pain back in again
I won’t lie my pain it’s not forgotten
And the weakness runs deep beneath my skin”

‘Duke Of Green’ is the opening track of that debut album Old Dirt Road and the song that introduced me, and countless other, to Lexington Field.

“Why would you want to come home?
Don’t you see our tears have run dry?
You’ve lost it all again
I can tell by your eyes

Tried to talk sense
Tried to mend this broken fence
But you, you didn’t care
You haven’t won a single race
Still hold on just in case that you will be there”

We’re nearly at the end and ‘American Crow’, taken from No Man’s War, continues in the same vein taking one of their more raucous tracks and stripping it bare.

“I’m not an angel, don’t call me a saint
I am just a face in the crowd
I follow my orders with no complaints
For a nation who stands tall and proud”

‘Pioneer’ follows and is also from No Man’s War but unlike the rest of this EP was a slowish ballad to start with that swirled and swirled with wave upon wave hitting you. Here though ‘Pioneer’ is slowed right down and proves my theory that the best celtic-punk bands are as good writing and playing ballads as punking out.

“Don’t call me pioneer
A grossly overstated misconception to all pioneers
I pick up my guitar
And write these stupid songs out of deception to mask my emptiness

But I should go and feel my new surroundings
Where I know I’ll find my solid ground
And I will show the world that I can fight again

I tried to hide my tears
But lost my words instead to a silent, muted pain
The cure for this disease
Was to find my inner song, a bittersweet melody

Maybe time will heal this fall
Into the next chapter of my life
I will open up my heart to this brand new start blessed to me

Don’t call me pioneer”

Redwood comes to an almighty end with the bonus track ‘Good Times’. Written in the studio on their first day there with the alcohol flowing it was recorded in a straight take with just a couple of mics and really captures the feeling that the band were at the top of their game and really (!!) enjoying themselves too.

Lex Band

Lexington Field from left to right: Bryan Hane – Guitar, Tom Lazet – Bass, Vincent West – Drums, Beau Gray – Vocals, Guitar, Olivia Buscemi – Violin

The EP is available on download and CD and once again the bands great friend Jose Pimienta aka Joe Pi has done the amazing artwork (check out his work here) so here’s hoping for a physical release as well as that download. It would be far too simple to call this a Best Of or Greatest Hits as that’s well off the mark. What we have here, without wanting to sound too pretentious, are re-imagings of Lexington Field as perhaps they would have been 50 or maybe even 100 years ago. The music is as real and as raw as anything they have ever recorded and for that I am truly grateful. Here is a band that shows no sign of letting up and if ever their was a case of quality AND quantity then Lexington Field have it in spades!

(you can have a free listen to Redwood by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

Lexington Field 2Buy The Album

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