Kris Lager Band: Love Songs & Life Lines Review

On Love Songs & Life Lines the Kris Lager Band moves in a different direction, diverging from their funky, rock- and blues-oriented sound to deliver a more mellow, song-driven album reminiscent of Van Morrison.

The album sets the low-key tone early, beginning with “Aurora Borealis,” a pretty acoustic instrumental. The Middle Eastern melodies represent a different sonic palette for the band, showing more melodic variety than on Rise and Shine, the band’s previous, straight-ahead rock/funk/blues album. From that first track, the album continues into a succession of low-key songs, without many instrumental pyrotechnics, and with Kris Lager’s vocals front-and-center. Which is not to say the album doesn’t groove. It’s more that the grooves are slower. “The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants” bounces along with some evocative slide mimicking the vocals and “Where the Green Grass Grows Tall” is a piano-led shuffle that similarly hops along. Both songs simmer without ever threatening to boil over, tempo-wise.

Love Songs & Life Lines has a very strong Van Morrison sound, which perhaps is not a huge surprise since it’s produced by Jim Gaines, who engineered Van Morrison’s Saint Dominic’s Preview. Love Songs & Life Lines has jazzy vocal phrasings, pretty pianos beneath the music, and extensive (but not overly so) saxophone breaks, all of which will ring a bell with Van Morrison fans. “Guiding Light” could be a lost Van Morrison track, as could “I’ll Be Thinking of You,” although while Lager certainly has a strong voice, it doesn’t have the power or depth of Van Morrison. But to be fair, whose voice does?

Love Songs & Life Lines is an evolution for the Kris Lager Band, with their focusing on the gentler, mellower tracks that have always been a smaller part of their overall sound. The songs are good, as is the execution, but the energy of the album sometimes lags a little. Songs can be slow and still project an intensity, but not every song on this album conveys momentum. That could be a part of their exploring a new, and sort-of-new, songwriting style. Hopefully the band will learn to bring more of their funk energy to what is strong songwriting.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Pickin’ Up the Pieces
– Where the Green Grass Grows Tall
– That’s What Love Is
– Sweet Magnolia
– The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants

The Big Hit

– The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants

Review by Steven Ovadia

Steven Ovadia

Steven Ovadia interviews blues artists about their songwriting process for Working Mojo.

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