Australian singer Lo Carmen recorded her sixth album Lovers Dreamers Fighters in the Butcher Shoppe studio in Nashville, working with David ‘Ferg’ Ferguson (who has also recently engineered Sturgill Simpson’s album). Together with a host of fantastic musicians including Dave Roe, Matt Combs, Russ Pahl plus guests Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Emma Swift she has created one of the most distinctive Americana albums of the year.
The opening title track establishes the melancholy country atmosphere of the whole album – music that feels like you’re sitting on a front porch watching a thunderstorm after your only love has abandoned you. In the end she knows you can’t change yourself for another but that doesn’t stop her being ‘all at sea’. Lo’s vocals have a breathless quality to them which might take a little getting used to but I think her style is refreshingly different than what you might expect from a typical album recorded in Nashville. The music still has the Americana sound, with touches of fiddle and sad guitars throughout.
Legendary singer Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (who has just released an album of Merle Haggard covers) is featured on the duet ‘Sometimes It’s Hard’, a heavenly highlight of the album. Together their quivering voices tell the tale of a rocky relationship. Sometimes it’s hard but sometimes it pays, they sing to each other over the sound of weeping guitars.
Another charmer is Last Thing I’ll Remember which has some gorgeous girl group style harmonies magically melting together. You Never Learned How to Dance shuffles across the dance floor, a little uncertainly at first but eventually you just let the singer lead you wherever she wants to waltz. Rhinestones in the Rain is an awesome title and features the pedal steel you’d expect on a song inspired by classic country imagery.
The honesty of I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell is endearing and the slow burn of this song makes it my favourite on the album. There’s sin and regret here but she’s admitting her faults and embracing these mistakes. Put Another Record On and Hold Your Lover Close are soulful swoons of sensuality.
The final song Tree in Winter is achingly atmospheric, the fiddle echoes the melody and creates a natural feel to the music. A tree in winter might lose all its leaves but they are strong enough to survive any struggle. In spring the blossom will always appear again. It’s an optimistic way to end this album and an inspiring message of hope for the future.
Listening to Lovers, Dreamers, Fighters is like dancing with your love in the sweet summer rain. Spend some time getting to know Lo Carmen’s voice and you can’t fail to be swept off your feet.