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Korby Lenker Korby Lenker
Album: Thousand Springs
Label: Soundly Music
Tracks: 12

When you pick up a CD and read the sleeve notes, it is not unusual to see that it has been record at one or two studios and mastered somewhere else. The remarkable thing about this album is that a studio was almost not involved at all. Korby Lenker, living in Nashville, where studios abound, left them all behind and headed for his home state of Idaho armed only with his guitar, some recording gear and a tent. He captured his vocals in more than dozen locations including Snake River Canyon, a cabin in Sun Valley, even in his father's mortuary, (Dad's an undertaker by the way).

Having done that he spent months driving all round the country to collect vocal and instrumental contributions from thirty of today's finest folk talents. Korby recorded them in hotel rooms, backyards, even a bookstore. As a consequence the effort of having sought out players of quality has proved more than beneficial to the final product.

"Wherever You Are" in contrast to the complications involved in producing the rest of the album, this song was a one-take session with just Korby and his guitar. gentle fingering of the strings beneath the rawness of his vocal delivery as he ponders on the fact that his lover has gone.

"Mermaids" Has a poetic quality about it. Only fishermen and sailors are meant to believe in mermaids. But a dreamer can also believe. This song celebrates in it's own gentle way, mermaids singing in the ocean. The band collected together for this track is one of the biggest for any number on the album, Matt the Electrician contributes with his trumpet but the sound is never overpowering or obtrusive. I picture the listener laying back on the sofa relaxing and letting the music waft around them.

"Love is the Only Song" A simple piano introduction played by Korby begins and sets the mood for this song which explores the concept of love overarching all. The piano is only joined by a plaintiff cello (Mai Bloomfield) and the harmonising voice of Angel Snow. Storm clouds cover up the sunshine, darkness, loneliness, heartbreak and worry, pounding the streets looking for an answer. However, love is oh, so patient and kind, it is the only song. I found myself affected by the lyrics of this song, they are beautiful. Perhaps this is not so surprising as Korby Lenker is known for his authorship as much as his song writing.

"Late Bloomers" We move to a slightly more lolloping tempo for this track. "We maybe behind everyone else and a little later than expected, but for us we'll be right on time" That about sums up this enjoyable track, which has a take it easy, it'll be alright, laissez-faire type attitude.

"Father To The Man" There is a Latin feel to the beat of this song. Our hero finds himself at a wild party, there's a Donkey in the bathroom, a fire eater the hallway and he doesn't know how he got there. It is all so confusing, he can't see the stars, but he knows they are there, but how can he believe anything he sees? Then spinning in the middle of the room he sees his younger self. He has forgotten what he used to know, things he was once sure of, he now doubts, the child is father to the man. Lucas Leigh gives an assured performance on Hammond, whilst with Andrew Pressman on bass, the rhythm keeps the whole team together. The lyrics are very clever and engaging.

"Stormy Seas" The first few seconds of this track might lead the listener to believe they were hearing a steam engine chuffing along ahead of a heavy load. The effect is, I suspect is provided by Mollie Tuttle's clawhammer banjo, which pervades the whole thing. An awkward time signature is eminently coped with by a band of such luminaries as Alex Wong on drums, Tim Lauer on accordion and Anna Tivel on fiddle. The arrangement has an ethereal, dreamy quality to as we explore the relationship that can overcome anything, including stormy seas. There is an interesting ending to the song where the listener is waiting for a resolve which doesn't arrive. - Nice

"Uh Oh" Korby's acoustic guitar takes the lead at the start of this track. There are a couple of sustained chords, which makes one wonder where this is all going for a moment. This really a love poem set to music to which it is well worth paying attention. It mentions the effect of a frisson when two people connect properly for the first time "Uh Oh, there goes my heart." Carol Spence adds a complementary female harmony to Korby's lead. The effect is to enhance the impact of what is happening to our star crossed lovers.

"Book Nerd" This cheerful song is about a guy who meets a blonde who always has a paperback in her pocket and is into literature in a big way. There are a lot of clever literary references in the song. I suspect it amused Korby to see how many he could fit in and still keep to the story of our hero trying impress the girl. Kai Welch on accordion makes an impression on the listener as does Kristin Andreassen on hambone who keeps a clicking beat from beginning to end.

"Last Man Standing" A crash on drums sets off the disco beat which opens and drives this lively track. The bridge is particularly effective as performed by Anthony da Costa on the electric guitar. The vocal quartet of Raina Rose, Matt the Electrician, Ryan Culwell and Jim Trick add so much to the track. It is almost an eighties sound where our hero boast that not only will he be the last man standing, he will live forever. - Tremendous fun.

"Nothing Really Matters" in style and presentation is reminiscent of a Simon and Garfunkel song such as might be found on the Bridge Over Troubled Waters LP. "Nothing really matters when I'm here with you, clouds rush, but sky's still blue." a perfect nirvana where life is sublime. No matter what happens it can't spoil our bliss. The song has a country feel to it with banjo, fiddle and mandolin riding in front of the rhythm section all accompanying the breathy vocal.

"Friend and A Friend" Like most of the tracks on this CD, this song was written by Korby in collaboration with (usually) one of the other performers on the album. In this case it is Molly Tuttle who also shares the vocal about a traveller who sets out on a road trip without a care to the rogues and robbers he might encounter. He had the chance to go so he took it. Lonely nights make you wake up feeling low some days you are in wide open spaces others you hit a dead end. You never know what will happen when you roll into yet another town full of people you've never met. You do the best you can. Yet this is the life you've chosen yet sometimes you need the friend of a friend. This narrative tries to explain the mindset of the rover who must keep moving on, to what? No-one knows. It is almost a commentary on how this album came to be made.

"Northern Lights" Like the moon slowly rising over the horizon the dulcet tones of the Hammond organ creep up on you to illuminate the chandelier that is a starry night. The prairie wind blew your love away, leaving this all behind you head to Chicago uncertain of what you will find. The love of your life never even said goodbye. This moody song is both sad and wonderful, the orchestration is magnificently evocative of a man who is torn between finding his lost lover and staying and enjoying the natural surroundings for which he cares so much.

There is so much variety on this album in style, tempo and treatment but the one consistency is quality. The lengths to which Korby Lenker went in order to glean the contributions of the top class musicians who play on this CD have paid off in spades. It is thoroughly enjoyable, not only for the music, but the thoughts and talent expressed in the lyrics. It is released on March 16th 2018 and it absolutely worth the wait. Furthermore, Korby is touring the UK in April with dates so far in London, Birmingham and Saltaire, (W.Yorks). He will also be at the Purbeck Valley Festival in August. No doubt more dates will be added.

Tony Collins