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Silas Lowe

Wandering Father, Forgotten Son – 2016 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Silas Lowe

Silas Lowe made a name for himself as half of the Atomic Duo with the Bad Livers' Mark Dubin, then embarked on his own career with his debut solo album, 2012's "The Things We Take For Granted." Two years later, Lowe took home the Austin Chronicle's Best Song of the Year Award for "Didn't She Stand," inspired by the 2013 filibuster by then-Texas state senator Wendy Davis.

With "Wandering Father Forgotten Son," Lowe revisits his acoustic roots with songs that straddle the line between traditional authenticity and contemporary reinvention set to an Appalachian folk/honky tonk/bluegrass soundtrack. As he adds his stellar storytelling contributions to the illustrious legacy of Texas singer/songwriters, Lowe also uses his songs to establish a connection between himself and his long estranged father Roy Michaels, a founding member of '60s rock/soul outfit Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys. Lowe reconciled with Michaels and the pair bonded over their respective musical paths before Michaels' death in 2008.

The hook on "Wandering Father Forgotten Son" is that half the songs are written by Lowe, the other half by Michaels, resulting in a powerful father-and-son conversation in which both voices belong to Lowe. Vocally, Lowe hovers in the range between Robert Earl Keen and Dan Hicks and it's his vulnerability that focuses the album's dual songwriting styles into a cohesive whole, from the Lone Star swing of "Moving to Manchaca" to the jazzy atmospherics of "Ode to Oregon" to the folky and poignant "About a Dying Father." And if "Didn't She Stand" failed to project Lowe's political viewpoint, "Poor People's Doctor" should crystallize his position with an eye that is as jaunty as it is jaundiced. Processing a difficult parent-child relationship can be a lifelong pursuit but, with "Wandering Father Forgotten Son," Lowe has found the perfect intersection of art and therapy.