Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers at the Eden Court, 29/10/14. A Review.
Sometimes unexpected gigs can turn out to be the best kind. I didn’t have high expectations for the band and only really went along at the behest of my wife. I’m not a huge country music fan and I’m definitely beginning to suffer from Americana fatigue, it seems that the simple act of chucking in a fiddle or a banjo into the odd song merits special attention.
However Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers play ‘proper’ country music and despite rumours of them being a bit ‘twangy’ I was gratified to find that there was no ‘hooting’, ‘hollering’ and nary a ‘yee-haw’ to be heard throughout the evening’s performance.
Formerly a pre-school teacher in Seattle, Zoe made the move to Austin Texas eighteen months ago to record her latest album ‘World of Strangers’, the songs are for the most part as you would expect from a country act, plenty of unrequited love and introspection but with a healthy dose of wit to boot.
Noting that Mums were sadly neglected when it came to drinking songs she decided to pen her own and so the wry ‘Mama Needs a Margarita’ goes down a storm with the audience, I’m sure I spotted a few knowing smiles at the lyric, “Mama needs a margarita A slow song and two strong arms to lead, A pretty red dress and a new pair of dancing shoes.”
The stage setup is refreshingly simple; the rhythm section of Greg Nies on drums and Sean Jacbobi on bass provide a solid backing to Zoe on acoustic guitar and Eric Hiszaw on lead guitar. Free of the frippery of effects racks and constant instrument swapping that bands seem to favour these days this leaves the band the time to get on with the business of making music.
Hiszaw’s lead riffs and solos complement the songs perfectly, never overpowering or showboating and Zoe’s voice is clear, each song telling a story. It would seem that the Emmylou Harris comparisons are more than fair. The sound in the One Touch Theatre is absolutely spot on and every note is crystal clear.
An intermission interrupted the flow somewhat but it gave the punters a chance to chat to the affable Zoe and the rest of the band while they manned their own merch stand. The second half continued as they began with a particular highlight being a belting version of ‘Lungs’ by Townes Van Zandt.
Zoe finishes on her own with the mournful ‘Never Been Fooled Again’ a seven minute story about a father who’s far from perfect… “They say a man like you has got the highway in his blood, but I think that’s just a nice way of saying you never really learned how to love” leaves us with a poignant, understated end to a great night of music.