One listen of Jeffrey Alexander and the Heavy Lidders self-titled new joint on Arrowhawk and I am swimming in a sea of psychedelic gold. Across seven expansive sonic explorations, Alexander and his bandmates – Drew Gardner, Jesse Sheppard, and Scott Verrastro this go-round – journey across windswept landscapes before taking flight and heading straight for the astral plane.
With a cache of excellent guests like Garcia Peoples’ Pat Gubler aka P.G. Six, Marissa Nadler, Rosali, and Ryan Jewell, the album is suspended in time. Alexander channels a whole host of influences throughout the record, but I keep getting drawn back to an air of the late, great Nikki Sudden permeating the haze throughout. When Alexander sings, “Another spin around the sun,” in the opening verse of “Dark Ships in the Forest,” there’s a jangle running through the timbre of the guitar and an understated warmth in his voice that is pure Jacobites.
Other originals like “Herb of Grace” and “Carousel Flowers” effortlessly navigate the cosmic veil, Alexander’s voice a soft light aglow in the distance where all the sonic driftwood is aimed. All these organic layers intertwine, electric guitars fizzing across resonating vibraphone notes, Verrastro’s rhythmic backbone keeping all heads above water. Emotive solos fly away on silver wings on the nine-minute psych-soaked opus, “Audobon Troopers.” This is music to lay back and absorb with closed eyes, keeping the world’s perils locked out for a few.
Jeffrey Alexander is another life who continues to throw down new pathways without rest. It always impresses me how he can capture a little magic, no matter the project. Even on the two covers, the Dead’s “Black Peter,” where Marissa Nadler haunts the empty spaces beautifully, and Gene Clark’s “Strength of Strings,” Alexander paints his own portrait across these memorable tunes, making these versions into his own offerings. I’m totally on board for The Heavy Lidders’ easy-flowing trip.
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