The Lucky Losers – Godless Land
Kathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz are San Francisco’s dynamic duo The Lucky Losers. They and their band have released what I think is their best effort yet with Godless Land. Their third release Blind Spot was a good one, but to me this one takes the cake; their fourth effort mixes blues and funk and jazz and honky tonk and R&B for a fun ride through 12 original and very fine cuts. They wrote 9 of the tracks between them and 3 were written for their use here.
Lemons and Berkowitz share the vocals and Phil does the harp work. Ian Lamson is the fine guitar player, Chris Burns shines on all the keys, and the backline of endre Tarczy on bass and Derrick “D’Mar” Martin on drums are really good, too. The band is together and the performances are all balanced and in synch.
“Half Of Nothing” kicks off the album. The band gets a cool, funky groove going and Lemons sings with real emotion and Berkowicz adds some tasteful harp. Guitar and organ intertwine in a dervish of good music. It’s a vibrant and great opener, contrasting the down topic of the lyrics with the upbeat tempo and delivery– a sad song can sound happy if you play it that way! Second is “Godless Land,” is the title track and a piece about how we don’t care about each other makes us so much the worse off. Lemons again sings with feeling with Berkowitz again backing her. His harp solo is poignant and fits nicely into the mix. Almost 7 minutes in length, the band makes their point about our current moral compass. “Mad Love Is Good Enough” has Phil fronting the band and Kathy harmonizing in a slower tempoed cut that ambles along sweetly. Berkowitz offers another short and sweet harp solo. The song builds into a big finish, capping off another fine effort. “No Good Lover” is a vocal duet featuring a rockabilly style and rousing beat. The duo spar vocally and there is a pretty little guitar solo to enjoy, too. The barrelhouse piano in support also adds well to the mix. Up next is “Be You” where the pair offer up a nice bluesy ballad and we get another harp solo to appreciate. Things get greasier with “Catch Desire By The Tail,” a midtempo cut that flows well and features both artists vocally. The piano and organ are up front and the piano solo is good as is the later harp solo.
Acoustic and electric slide guitars are featured in “Leave You On The Side Of The Road.” Lemons sings emotively and Berkowitz blows some mean harp in this slick cut. “Can’t Keep Pretending” has a churchy feel with the organ intro and then moves into a funky groove with offering up some suave vocals and nice harp work. Next is “One Good Eye,” a cool and slow blues with darker overtones. The lyrics tells us of keeping watch through the keyhole to watch for when they come for you because when they come for you they are coming for us all. Dark, eerie and well done– this is an interesting song. The harp solos and instruments blend to help set the mood as Lemons wails. “What Makes You Act Like That” follows, a rollicking cut with some honky tonk piano and Berkowicz and Lemons sharing the vocals again. Acoustic guitar, harp and brushes make the sound interesting and fun; well done again! “The Good Fight” gets the horns and organ going for a soulful mood. Phil sings with a very soulful tone and the band supports him aptly. He testifies to his ex about how he’s made it without her– it’s another winner. Things finish up with “The Ragged Heart” which has a country/cowgirl feel to it. Lemons gives us another great performance as she laments about her torn up heart. The guitar and organ help set the tone, a cool conclusion to a really fine set of tunes.
Whether they are commenting on the tragedy of what we call today or the tragedy of a love lost, these two really deliver the goods. The songs are tight, the music and lyrics are great, the performances are crisp and they sing with great emotion. I’ve listened to all their recordings and this really tops all their prior stuff and they’ve done some really good stuff before this. I was very impressed and highly recommend this one!