Lost Dog Street Band return with their newest batch of songs, Glory, via Anti-Corp Music this Friday January 21st. There’s still a handful of bands that pique my interest enough make me want to write about them, and Lost Dog Street Band is one of those, and well here we are. I thought this would be just another simple review, but instead, it became quite the personal revisit into parts of my own past of addictions and recovery. So simply put, I found far more than I bargained for.
That’s a good thing in case you’re wondering. On Glory, Benjamin Tod, Ashley Mae and Jeff Loops have delivered the third installment in a tale that’s far from finished.
If you’re familiar with LDSB, you’ll likely know at least a bit of their basic story. It’s a history that’s more or less out there for full consumption if you’re interested, and for the benefit of space, I won’t go into detail here. Suffice to say, alcoholism and addiction typically lead one down a hellish path of depression, mistakes, heartache and more. Indeed, that’s what fills those early chapters (albums) in the Lost Dog/Benjamin Tod repertoire. But, here in what I’d refer to as the middle chapters, is where the plot thickens, and as they say, shit gets real.
“A logical glimpse of climbing out of hell” is how Tod describes the beginning steps of sobriety. He says, “There’s a real lack in examples of actual recovery.” Adding, “There’s not a brutally honest take on how painful the process is, but how rewarding it is at the same time”. Glory is most certainly that honest take, much in the way Steve Earle’s “Train a Comin’” (an album that Tod counts as an influence) was back in 1999.
One of the things I love most about LDSB, is the unique duality in what the band does. That’s as good a place as any to begin to explain their intensely devoted following. On one hand, there’s a deeply rooted privacy and protectiveness to the band and it’s immediate circle. But, on the other hand, here they are spilling their souls in the studio, or each and every night on stage. It’s definitely a key cog in what make them uniquely special. It’s that blunt honesty that draws their fans like a moth to a flame, and keeps them hanging on every word whether it’s personally relatable to them, or maybe brings a thought of someone they know and love. That’s a rare and special talent, one that doesn’t get enough mention.
Myself, I felt these songs. I felt the anguish, the pain, regret and embarrassment of active alcohol addiction. Several songs on Glory, hit close to home for me, and even stung a bit more than expected,as I realized that I could really feel what Tod was sharing. The stark arrangements, accentuate the atmosphere, with Ashley Mae’s fiddle, Loops’ upright bass, as well as backing vocals, and fellow busker Douglas Fransisco contributing slide guitar add a flavor that sets Tod’s lyrics to life. A few stand-outs:
“Cost of the High”
“The poison is the only thing that stands
Now you’ve fallen to the grips of its command
All the beauty’s been pawned and you ask why
Chalk it up to the cost of the high”
I stumble down the empty avenue
If this is the bottom I fell through
With a spade I dug my grave into perdition’s tomb
In particular, “Until I Recoup (Glory I)” and “Hayden’s Lament” brought back some dark memories of what I call the end game of hitting bottom. Knowing you’re in bad shape, wounded and outnumbered, but still managing to function, simply because it’s all you know to do. Ultimately you face a decision, as Tod sings in the latter, “Because you’re getting dead or getting tough”.
But lest we forget, as Tod mentioned, the process is also rewarding. Rest assured, Tod captures this as eloquently as he does the darkness and everything else in between. “What Keeps Me Up Now”, and “Losing Again” capture the moments of despair as equally as “Ends With You” and the closing ”I Believe (Glory II)” offers hope and a chance for redemption and a reclaiming of one’s dignity. Ultimately, it’s that honesty and integrity that makes Glory an important and special album, and just like that my top album of the year contender for 2022.
Find out more about Lost Dog Street Band, Glory and their current tour here: