Laurie Lewis — Trees

With 24 albums under her belt, one would think Laurie Lewis would be more widely known by now. However that lack of greater recognition outside of the acoustic world is by no means her fault. Although her musical orientation has its basis in bluegrass, it’s hardly accurate to typecast her in any particular realms. Her melodies are unceasingly melodic, carefully crafted, and imbued with the sort of emotion that’s revealing and resolute in equal abundance. In other words, they’re relatable to anyone who’s experienced life’s triumphs and tragedies, and had a determination to persevere.

In Lewis’ case, the emotional implications were quite profound. Her personal and professional partner Tom Rozum, with whom she had been making music since 1986, developed Parkinson’s Disease, which left him unable to play guitar or mandolin, to tour or to record, as had been their practice for decades. Even after COVID had deprived her of any opportunity to perform, she went through a tumultuous six month period where she lost her voice and faced the possibility she might never sing again.

Happily, Lewis emerged from this difficult period with her talent intact, and Trees is proof that she remains as resilient as always. With the able accompaniment of some skilled musicians — Hasee Ciaccio on bass, Brandon Godman on fiddle, George Guthrie on guitar and banjo, Patrick Sauber on banjo, Sam Reider on accordion, Andrew Marlin on mandolin, and Nina Gerber on guitar — she’s produced an exceptional set of songs — some covers, but most originals — and made an album that’s as expressive as it is evocative. For the most part, the melodies belie any sense of sadness. Just a Little Ways Down the Road makes for an infectious album opener, while Quaking Aspen is jaunty and engaging. The loping pacing of Down on the Levee adds further appeal. The a cappella harmonies of the title track provide a gospel feel, while a take on Bill Morrissey’s Long Gone seems to echo the melody and refrain found in Michael Nesmith’s classic composition Some of Shelley’s Blues. No matter though; the song resonates all the same.

So too, when, on the album’s closing track, Rock the Pain Away, Lewis sings, “When the loss is more than you can stand, Reach out to me and I will take your hand, When the sorrow turns your heart to stone, I’ll stand by you, you need not be alone,” solace and assurance are incontestably implied. One might imagine she’s reassuring herself as well, all the more reason to believe Lewis is one who finds serenity in song.

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About the Author

Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman has been a writer and reviewer for the better part of the past 20 years. He writes for the following publications — No Depression, Goldmine, Country Standard TIme, Paste, Relix, Lincoln Center Spotlight, Fader, and Glide. A lifelong music obsessive and avid collector, he firmly believes that music provides the soundtrack for our lives and his reverence for the artists, performers and creative mind that go into creating their craft spurs his inspiration and motivation for every word hie writes.