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Mo Leverett - These Are The Days (2014)
Artist: Mo Leverett
Title Of Album: These Are The Days
Year Of Release: 2014
Genre: Folk/Blues/Christian
Label: Justice Road Productions
Quality: MP3 320 kbps
Total Time: 44:43
Total Size: 103 Mb

1. These Are The Days (3:43)
2. Lori Lee (3:40)
3. All The Same (3:08)
4. Underneath A Silent Sky (3:31)
5. My Brother (3:24)
6. Only Love (3:29)
7. Rabbi Here (4:16)
8. Keep Me Around (3:26)
9. Hold The Sign (3:42)
10. You Belong To Me (3:02)
11. Little Katherine (3:26)
12. I Will Worship You Alone (2:45)
13. Crochet (3:04)

If the goal of a singer-songwriter is to draw a listener inward and make then more ruminative, then by all accounts, Jacksonville, FL's Mo Leverett has achieved said goal. On his most recent album, These Are The Days, he provokes deep thought and mines giant issues, most of them of a spiritual and divine nature. At times, the disc is tedious, overly pensive and melancholic, but in its winning moments, These Are The Days announces Leverett as a newcomer to the always expanding First Coast music scene. Leverett draws his strength from his sandpapery yet soulful vocals and his thought-provoking lyrics. From start to finish, These Are The Days is spartan, anchored by mostly Leverett and his acoustic guitar. Producer Scotty Alderman adds some sonic touches sporadically and naturally the album's strongest songs are ones with more than just Leverett and his guitar.

The album opens with the title track, a weary and ageless tour-de-force that pretty much sums up who exactly Leverett is as a song- writer. Chances are if "These Are The Days" does not move you, then Leverett is probably not your cup of tea. The album's first apex moment comes in the form of "Lori Lee," a distinctly Southern effort buttressed by banjo and an organ. Of all the songs on These Are The Days, "Lori Lee" is the one with the most accessibility and probably should be circling the ranks of AAA radio. Proving that he''s more than just placid acoustic fare, Leverett up the sonic ante on the bluesy "All the Same," which opens with rich strumming and gradually thunders its way across the speakers before howling to the finish. "All the Same" is an absolute charmer and has the kind of charisma and swagger that would make Robert Cray quite proud. If These Are The Days has a weakness it is that Leverett never returns to the glory of "All the Same" and instead sticks to quiet contemplation.

The second of the meditative lot (and there are quite a few) is "Underneath a Silent Sky," a prayer-like effort that serves as a study in restraint. On the heels of "Silent Sky" is the mid-tempo "My Brother," a meandering effort that features light organ and a definite gospel bent. There's also a hopeful lift to it and it marks one of the only moments on These Are The Days where one feels some sense of joy. That's not to say that These Are The Days lacks ebulliency, this is just a deeply pensive work and forces the listener to sit and think. Cursory listens are not recommended.

Arguably the strongest of the quiet acoustic efforts is "Only Love," a haggard, whiskey-soaked ballad that points towards Leverett's inherent talent as a singer-songwriter. Songs like "Only Love" have a resonance and a potency that few if any can match. Unfortunately, "Only Love" also serves as the end of the album's very strong first half.

The second half of These Are The Days opens with the ho-hum "Rabbi Here," a strong lyrical effort but an absolute chore from start to finish. Leverett picks up the pace on the vernal and winsome "Keep Me Around," a stellar cut of first-rate folk music that would make the editors of American Songwriter quite pleased. Unfortunately, These Are The Days stalls on the deep blues cut "Hold the Sign." While the song's intentions and motifs are solid, the song itself just never seems to gain any traction and much like "Rabbi Here" wallows in inconsistency.

Cognizant that he could lose the listener with another weak cut, Leverett goes for broke on "You Belong To Me," a supple and ageless valentine that finds his leathery exterior turning velvety and saccharine in the most engaging of ways. Xylophone and bells creep their way into the frame as does a well-placed violin and when all is said and done, "You Belong To Me" has cemented its place as one of These Are The Days' finest tracks.

Leverett has never shied away from his love of worship music and has performed in numerous churches throughout his career. That love of worship comes out in spades in both "Little Katherine" and "I Will Worship You Alone." Of the two, the former is strongest as the song rises from a bland opening into a richly layered conclusion complete with some well-positioned lap steel. Of all the cuts on These Are The Days, few have a finish as strong and as riveting as "Little Katherine."

These Are The Days closes with "Crochet," a lyrically creative effort in acoustic rumination but one that sounds very much like most of its predecessors. If Leverett has a flaw is that far too many of his songs bleed together. If he had chosen instead to construct an album of nine or ten songs, the entire disc would be an absolute triumph. Those mistakes aside, These Are The Days is a strong work from an artist who is looking to reinvent himself in his new Northeast Florida environs.

After many years spent in New Orleans, Leverett is eager to embrace new opportunities. If he can build on the winning moments of These Are The Days, there's a very good chance he'll craft an album that will leave the masses breathless. Not convinced? Dive into songs like "You Belong To Me," "Lori Lee" "Little Katherine" and "All The Same" and revel in the mastery. Though no one can argue Leverett's fervent love for placidity, the beauty and grandeur in his standout tracks are exactly why Leverett is more than worth your time and attention.

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