Lucas Haneman Express – Catch the Westbound | Album Review

Lucas Haneman Express – Catch the Westbound


CD: 10 Songs, 51:00 Minutes  

Styles: Contemporary Electric and Acoustic Blues Rock, Roots, All Original Songs  

True story: At first glance, I thought the band name of Canada’s Lucas Haneman Express was Lucas HANGMAN Express. With skeletons drawn on the jacket of their new CD, Catch the Westbound, featuring ten original songs such as “Wicked Ride” and “Devil’s in my Grave,” one may forgive me for such a brain fart. What the Express offers is so good it’s scary, though it may be too rock-focused and Millennial for some. The 40-and-under crowd will love it, for as the band’s website says, “Lucas Haneman is an expressive and soulful guitarist with a sound that reaches beyond genres.” The blending of such is as seamless as the blending of this quartet’s vocals. Soaring harmonies are the real highlight of this album, so open your ears and enjoy.

Haneman started playing the guitar when he was six years old, originally focusing on folk and blues, but branching out into jazz and alternative rock as a teenager. He’s also proficient at mandolin, banjo, bass and drums. While in high school, Haneman received a CBC Galixy Rising Star Award at the 2005 Ottawa International Jazz Festival.  In 2010 he graduated from Concordia University with a BFA in Jazz Studies (where he received the prestigious Oscar Peterson scholarship in 2008. More recently, he has been a two-time winner of the Ottawa Blues Challenge, a 2018 Maple Blues nominee, and along with Megan Laurence, will be competing for the second time at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis (January 2020).

Joining Lucas (lead vocals, electric, acoustic and twelve-string soprano guitar) are Jeff Asselin on drums and percussion, Megan Laurence on vocals, and Martin Newman on bass and vocals. Special guest Jeff Heisholt stars on organ for tracks three and nine.

The songs below will make even the most die-hard blues purists start playing air instruments.

Track 01: “Lay It to the Line” – The album’s first track is so great that I listened to it three times before moving on to the next one. Number one’s got everything an opener should – high energy, killer rock guitar, skillful lyrics, crisp instrumentation, and lethal hooks in the chorus. “Where do we go from he-e-ere, cause I’ve got questions on my mind, like how do I disape-e-ear?” LOL!

Track 05: “Ms. McGrim” – Haneman and company take a trip down acoustic lane in their hard-driving fifth song. Its subject? A woman with a warning attached: She may or may not have made her lover permanently disappear in the dead of night. “Young man had a lesson in ‘don’t mess ‘round with Ms. McGrim…” The background vocals are so catchy that you’ll find yourself singing along whether you intend to or not.

Track 06: “Devil’s in my Grave” – The band’s harmonies are at their most vibrant here as they lament their ominous fate in the afterlife: “Heart beats slow, don’t know where to go. My heart beats slow; I don’t know where to go. All alone, the Devil took my bones. She’s all alone, the Devil took my bones.” This atmospheric lament morphs into a flat-out Jimi Hendrix-style experience toward the end. As you rock out, remember the legend of Robert Johnson.

Catch the Westbound with the Lucas Haneman Express. Prepare for a wild ride!

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