Published Apr 09, 2020During his early days in New York's DIY scene, Dave Benton was known for being the tender voice of honesty in the three-songwriter band LVL UP. With LVL UP now dissolved, Benton is fully leaning into the same burning sentimentality that he has been known for in his past work with his second album as Trace Mountains.
Now based in the Hudson Valley region of New York, Benton uses his sleepily warm voice with wide open guitar tones on Lost in the Country. Benton has cleaned up Trace Mountains' reedy sound, maintaining his melancholic breeziness with the introspection of a wizened veteran. On the album's title track, Benton embraces slowing things down with a porch-lit, shuffling back beat and worn, sinewy guitar lines reminiscent of Kurt Vile or the War on Drugs. The tinny chirp of steel guitar on "Fallin' Rain" is glazed over with enough woody reverb to conjure the feeling of chewing on a bit of straw while staring at a deep orange sunset.
Elsewhere, "Benji" begins as a crisp AM radio rock tune, seamlessly blending in warped vocal lines and a big electrified outro that is reminiscent of Benton's LVL UP work. "Me & May" is a daydreaming, polished pop gem, speckled with a salty sweetness and "Dog Country" is a softly narrated by Benton's boyish tenor backed by bandmate Susannah Cutler's sparkling voice.
As Benton shifts his focus from big rock choruses to a grounding, direct connectivity, Lost in the Country cements Trace Mountains' evolution into a type of modern Americana. (Lame-O Records)