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Alec Lytle and Them Rounders

The End of Ours – 2015 (Four Acres)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Alec Lytle and Them Rounders

The debut release of northern California-based singer/songwriter Alec Lytle is a mix of acoustic folk and rock with touches of bluegrass. Lytle's soft, mournful vocals and gloomy lyrics give much of the album a dark feel, as with "Train Long Gone" ("No pictures smiling/Oh, my baby said she feels like dying") featuring Greg Leisz on pedal steel. Leisz also contributes nice Dobro licks on one of the stronger tracks "Ordinary Day," a sad tale of lost love ("I heard you crying, hopelessly trying to put your puzzle pieces back together/And pay attention to the weather").

Other standouts are a pair of tunes of unrequited love with "The Fiona You'll Never Know" ("But they don't love you that much it's true") featuring a tasteful acoustic slide guitar solo by Val McCallum, and "Used To" ("I heard you found yourself somebody new/But does he love you the way I used to?"). The strongest vocal is on "Underground," which begins with Lytle practically whispering and builds to a crescendo with his plaintive wail of "I am alone."

Lytle wrote 9 of the 12 tracks. The two covers display Lytle's disparate influences with effective renditions of The Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place" and Low's "When I Go Deaf." For this effort, Lytle gathered a notable group of contributors including producer Tony Berg (Nickel Creek, Nancy Griffith, Ted Hawkins, Squeeze) and engineer/mixer Bob Clearmountain (Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Lucinda Williams). The instrumentation is stellar throughout with Matt Chamberlain (drums), Sebastian Steinberg (bass), Patrick Warren (keyboards), Dan Newitt (mandolin) and Gabe Witcher (fiddle).

With Lytle's pleasant vocals, thoughtful compositions and notable supporting cast "The End of Ours" impresses.