I liked this band as soon as I heard them, and then I found out that they’re from New Albany, which made me like them even more.( Being from across the river myself, it’s exciting to see a really great band coming out of my hometown.)
Between Two Lions’ new record, Put This City on My Shoulders, is 45 minutes worth of alt-country magic. The smoky, jukebox ballads stand up alongside the best of Whiskytown and early My Morning Jacket. Guitarist Tim Corley has perfected the plaintive wail of the pedal steel guitar, which seems to cry out its agreement with Brent Engle’s low, lovelorn, nearly whispered lyrics. Engle himself uses the harmonica to the same end, which works wonderfully. This isn’t “All My Rowdy Friends” country. This is pure “Tear in My Beer.”
Louisville is also a main character in the album; references appear in most of the songs. There is definitely a sense of the lonely isolation that can only be possible in a city full of strangers. If you imagine wandering brokenhearted alongside the gray streets of this city late at night and then stumbling into some honky-tonk dive, drawn by the music escaping along with cigarette smoke through the door left ajar, ideally the band playing would be Between Two Lions. If you didn’t imagine them, you probably haven’t heard them. And if you haven’t, you should.
Engle recently took time to take on LEO’s Five Important Questions.
LEO: If you were Mayor, what would you do to help promote people like you in this city?
Brent Engle: Find ways to emphasize local music. One way might be to help fund WXBH-FM, 92.7, Brick House Radio. This locally controlled station would lower the barriers typically associated with getting your music on the radio and give local artists a much needed performance venue from which to share their music. Helping local bands get their music on the radio would be the ultimate display of support by the Mayor’s office.
LEO: Which Louisville musician needs to get more attention?
BE: There are many. Two guys that come to mind right away are Nate Thumas (the old 100 Acre Wood, and now Dallas Alice) and Peter Searcy (Squirrel Bait, Big Wheel, Starbilly, solo). They are both very talented songwriters and musicians who deserve much more recognition than they have received to date.
LEO: If music were food, what kind would yours be?
BE: Probably a pizza and a beer from Rich-O’s Public House. I always feel great after a couple of slices of pizza and a few Electors. I hope that is how people feel after listening to our music — completely satisfied.
LEO: Tell me about one of your favorite works of art aside from your medium.
BE: A local artist by the name of Michael Nicolas painted the oil-on-canvas piece “City” that was used for the cover of Put This City On My Shoulders. After seeing this piece and talking to Michael about his inspiration for creating it, I instantly got the idea for this record. I don’t know much about art, but it has been said that art should inspire. We have a really great record, and I bought the painting — I call that inspiration.
Another artist who has been a favorite of mine for quite some time is Jack Simon. His medium is charcoal on canvas and he has a style that is very interesting to me — I own more than a few of his pieces.
LEO: What do you want to say that you know you shouldn’t?
BE: I think we are all in touch with reality when it comes down to being in a band — that is, we all have our careers separate from Between Two Lions. That being said, we still occasionally check the machine for a message from Austin City Limits.
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