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EP Review: Greg Loftus “Western Medicine”

Greg Loftus started playing music and writing songs at the tender age of 12 years old. The southeastern Massachusetts native weaned on punk rock before moving in the direction of alt-country acts such as Drive-By Truckers and their ilk. The two-song teaser EP Western Medicine for Loftus’ album release illustrates the wisdom of that long-ago decision and serves as notice that Loftus has authored a major work in alt-country circles with his full-length release.

The two songs he has chosen for the teaser, “When My Day Comes” and “Hill Country Choir”, are clearly representative of his ambitions for the release. Loftus may have left the Boston music world as a regular for the presumably greener pastures of Austin, Texas, but he ventured back to his geographical roots for this release. I believe that recording these songs in his home state grounded Loftus in the necessary psyche space he needed to make his self-described “calloused, road-worn Americana for all colors of collars” resonate with listeners.

Nearly two years’ worth of lockdowns and pandemic-fueled hysteria leads someone to write a song such as “When My Day Comes”. Loftus composed this song a bit in character – listeners hear Greg Loftus, without question, coming through on each line of the track, but he takes on a role for listeners through his use of language. His ear for “voice” is impressive and certainly enriches his material.

BANDCAMP: https://gregloftus.bandcamp.com/track/when-my-day-comes

Denying the song’s musical quality is impossible. It is Americana, through and through, but leans far more towards the bluesy side of the spectrum than anything Nashville. He keeps his accompaniment minimal on both tracks and such lean economy is especially effective with this song. “Hill Country Choir” is a far different matter. This is folkie rather than country or blues and far more plaintive than its predecessor. The intimacy invites you in.

He boils down his presentation to voice, guitar, and harmonica. It focuses the listener’s attention on his lyrical powers, and many are likely to believe they are in full bloom for this composition. Repeating certain key lines during the course of the song spotlights important points for us without ever belaboring them and the stark emotions he depicts, along with their accompanying layers of ambiguity, makes this deceptively simple song one you need to hear multiple times.

It’s a well-crafted teaser. The album and songs such as this aren’t the work of some fly-by-night dilettante temporarily fascinated with the Americana genre .Instead, it’s the work of a musician and songwriter who’s committed a good portion of his life with his art. You can hear that in these songs – they mean everything to Greg Loftus. The teaser for his Western Medicine album is an excellent and thoughtful introduction to the Massachusetts-born singer/songwriter’s talents.

 

Julie Blankenship

 

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