After more than a decade years of recording and performing, songwriter Lew Card has earned the ability to turn in an album that breaks the rules he's already set for himself as a low-fi country artist. "Follow Me Down" aims to do that with a shinier sound that defies his previous stripped down style.
The title is a call to listeners: Get off the high throne of music snobbery and return to American music's roots - country and blues - with an artist willing to be sharp in his guitar picking and blunt in his messaging. Unlike others who dare listeners to dissect metaphors, Card entertains listeners rather than sucks them into his own personal poetic drama. Those searching for an emotional biography will have to look elsewhere.
"Walking Shoes Blues" starts the album with a sound almost too hokey to be serious. It's crisp, clear and almost nonsensical, and it leaves nothing for listeners to pull apart. The same goes for dance floor honkey tonk tune "Southern Railroad Blues" and lovesick single "Baby Won't Ya," which includes the album title in its lyrics - they're technically good, but don't challenge the listener to find hidden meaning within. Establishment-jaded "Condo Town" evokes a smirk with frank and folksy lines like "Everyone's got something to say, but no one's talking; they've got one in the grave, one right in the mouth."
Card has enough of a legacy to be able to release an album like this, and he's not shy about his renegade spirit or encouragement of others to be themselves. "Take a look inside, tell all the people why you're gonna do your own thing," he sings in the appropriately named "Do My Own Thing."
The album isn't limited to Card "doing his own thing," however, and includes instrumental talents from a number of musical masters, such as Earle Poole Ball, who's played with The Byrds and Johnny Cash. Jonny "Keys" Grossman's piano cuts through as clearly as Card's expert guitar picking, and the titular artist recognizes this, making sure to showcase the ivories in most of the songs.
Some listeners will follow Card and relax in the polished, but sincere "Follow Me Down?" The rest will just have to wait for whatever else he sends up.