From introspective dobro-driven tunes that wax poetic about heartbreak, addiction and modern America to up-tempo bluegrass cuts played with a traditional flair, Mark Lavengood's new album “We’ve Come Along” puts the listener right in the moment and keeps them moving down the metaphorical road to the next big feel. The album, in a nutshell, resonates life.
Lavengood, aka “Huggy Bear,” may be best known as the energetic, ever-talented, always-smiling multi-instrumentalist from Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, but he’s truly come into his own on his second full-length release.
Playing with an all-star cast of Michigan musicians, including former Flatbellys co-horts Keith Billik on banjo and Spencer Cain on bass, along with guitarist Kyle Rhodes and mandolin player Jason Dennie, Lavengood, his dobro and voice deliver on a handful of originals, a couple traditional and his take on the Boss’ “Hungry Heart.”
From the bluesy instrumental “Mule Kick” to the Americana “Vulpes, Vulpes” and “Three Day Blow” — the latter of which has the feel of an old Uncle Tupelo cut — the Bluegrass Bonanza refuses to be confined to a single genre. Covers of Ralph Stanley’s “Bound to Ride” and Johnny Horton’s “Ol Slew Foot” offer further proof as Huggy tips his hat to those who paved the way for today’s newgrass sound.
To know Huggy is to know positivity, honesty and a beaming light of joy. And that’s exactly what “We’ve Come Along” coveys. It’s an open, honest collection of songs that finds hope in despair, a reason to move on and a desire to keep on going.
The way in which Lavengood repeatedly discovers the light in the darkness is perhaps best summed up by the closing lyrics of the album-opening title track:
“Let’s cast out our nets and open every door
Let’s let love guide us, let it be,
As we roll on down the road
We’ve come a long way now
And we’ve learned somehow
To get by, alright.”
- written by freelance writer, journalist, camper, Ryan Boldrey.