One-third of the lyrical force between New York’s LVL UP, Dave Benton has made a reputation for himself as a stellar songwriter with an honest, relatable perspective. Outside of LVL UP, Benton has released his own music as Trace Mountains. Today, Benton releases the second Trace Mountains record, Lost in the Country. It’s a record full of moments that feel incredibly relevant right now.
“Rock & Roll” kicks off Lost in the Country with some wonderful guitar work and compelling songwriting. It sets the pace quite well as both will be present throughout the record. The gorgeous and laid-back “Dog Country” follows, featuring strings, lap steel guitar, and magnificent harmonies and lyrics made for inspirational posters.
“There is no one who can save us from ourselves
and the bleating country skies open in moonlight”
“Me & May” has a wonderful vibe to it, built around the lush, synth strings, the jangly guitar, and Benton’s words of wisdom. “Cooper’s Dream” is a little more upbeat, centred around a huge bass line. Its closing run is simply awesome, as distortion and great synth work segue into a strings-led escapade.
The title track, “Lost in the Country”, is a huge track. From its infectious guitar work to its driving bass line and dreamy harmonies, it’s a perfect centerpiece to the record. Benton’s lyrics are captivating and relatable, as he finds connection through a shared moment on the road with another band and singing of times of isolation. Its closing moments are just sublime.
“The part of my life that’s kept me hiding inside has died
And the soul in my heart is always hungry
And I’m lost in the deep wide country
I don’t hear nothing but silence”
“Absurdity” stands out as one of the record’s strongest tracks. It paints powerful, vivid imagery of a hike and life’s constant entanglement with technology, even in its most secluded moments. The album comes to a close with a short closer, “Turn to Blue”.
Lost in the Country was created from a place of introspection, but it’s immensely relatable. From it’s great production to the musicians involved – including Jim Hill (guitar, organ, vocals – Slight Of), Greg Rutkin (drums – LVL UP), Susannah Cutler (synth, vocals – Yours Are the Only Ears), Sean Henry (bass) – it’s no surprise that the record just simply sounds amazing. There are moments that are reminiscent of some of the best The War on Drugs or Real Estate tracks, two bands who create truly great sounding records. Fans of either band, as such, will find things to love about Lost in the Country. When LVL UP broke up in 2018, it felt as if the New York scene had lost one of its greatest bands. In ways, it fills that LVL UP sized void. In many more ways, however, it brings something new, more mature, and refined to the table.
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