OK, for the record, did you know that acoustic ensemble Auburn actually broke up almost a decade ago? I know, right! But luckily for us fans they reformed back in 2011, subsequently released the critically acclaimed, and quite brilliant, Nashville last year, and now have a brand new album, Mixed Feelings due out this upcoming September 11th, 2015.
Chock full of sonic world elements of fused blues, Al t-country and roots music, with soulful lyrics and catchy pop rhythms, Mixed Feelings will not have you harboring anything of the kind for its indepth, and tuneful musical output.
Moving swiftly on and having saddled up their unique blend of Americana , the first track is the title track, ‘Mixed Feelings.’ Brought forth by the raw, real, emotional blues roots tone of lead singer Liz Lenten, her lyrically genius and vocal expertise are a perfect match for the band that backs her at every turn. Consisting of Lynn Williams (drums), Mark Fain (bass), Justin Moses (fiddle, banjo, dobro), Barry Walsh (piano, wurlitzer, organ), JT Brown (Harmony vocals) and award-winning producer Thomm Jutz on guitars, the album fairly begs for repeat plays after each and every listen.
Next up is the poppier vibe of ‘Love Lost Its Way,’ a delightful cut that wouldn’t have been out of place had it have existed in the mid-70’s. With all the songs recorded on her beloved vintage Martin guitar called Rosie, Lenten’s troupe are precise, detailed and come to the fore as a collective force on each and every track. Cuts such as the tale of domestic abuse, ‘New Years Day,’ the gentle beauty of ‘Friends,’ and the banjo-fury of ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ are prime examples of not only Lenten and her band’s musical expertise, but of the producing talents of Nashville, Tennessee-based Jutz (Nanci Griffiths, Mary Gauthier, Kim Richey).
Mixed Feelings contains 12 brand new songs, covering all the usual emotional issues, such as love, loss, domestic abuse and manslaughter, confusion, perseverance, trust, friendship and psychotic-stalker-dumped-girlfriends, but one of the true highlights for me is the brilliant ‘Crystal Stairs.’ A blend of old school, gentle blues funk and plucked guitar sway from Jutz, Lenten’s voice starts to resemble Joplin quite like no other track before it.
With a new album and a major UK tour supporting the legendary Jefferson Starship’s 40th anniversary tour, Auburn has been captivating audiences around the country with their unique blend of Americana , blues and roots music for a long time now. Mixed Feelings is an album that sounds like it was born on the calming breeze of the 70’s, and has been gently unearthed for our listening pleasure here in 2015. The simple storytelling of ‘Lovers Lullaby’ is next, and that is followed by both ‘Out There’ and then the country-tinged ‘More Than Everything.’
On an album that was (remarkably) recorded, and mixed in just 6 days, the bluesy soundscape for Lenten’s distinctive vocals continue onwards with ‘Wood For The Trees,’ a track which personifies the entire troupe perfectly. This glorious album then comes to a close with the ridiculously lyrically stunning ‘Quite Life,’ and then, finally, the mid-tempo flow of ‘Feel The Sun.’ As Hunter S. Thompson once said: “Buy the ticket, take the ride”, as you will not be disappointed.
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk