Low Cut Connie main man Adam Weiner stands at his piano in his dressing gown, his mop of corkscrew hair dangling in his baby blue eyes like some crazed, Jewish Jerry Lee Lewis. Those same eyes stare directly at the screen as he sings his heart out for yet another of his weekly livestream events beamed from his living room. These weekly ‘Tough Cookies’ episodes are the new normal for a musician who had 150 plus gigs booked this year to promote the release of his band’s new album ‘Private Lives’. It’s a chance for the musician to connect with his audience, play songs and interview fellow creatives.
Covid times have derailed the lives of all musicians and entertainers for the near future and many are adapting and turning recent events around to do what they can to survive and continue to bring their art to their fanbase while live music is a no-no. You can’t keep a good band down and albums are still being made. ‘Private Lives’ is Low Cut Connie’s 6th long player. An ambitious 17 track double album that continues the Philidelphian resident’s obsession with the inner workings, the ‘private lives’ of everyday people.
The title track kicks the whole thing off in fine form. The upbeat rocker is the sort of tune a T Bird would’ve used to woo a gal like Sandy. An overly familiar drum rhythm thumps like a heartbeat alongside finger clicks, before a killer vocal refrain imbeds itself in your skull. Low Cut Connie have a knack of doing this sorta shit to ya on a regular basis!
Adam then takes his pals to church on the anthemic ‘Help Me’. A euphoric release of emotion. A cry for help. A plea for salvation. Call it what you will, I call it cool rock ‘n’ roll, baby! A great piano riff, a killer guitar lick and cool cat drums lead us into an emotive vocal performance. 2 tracks in and I must say this is one of the most live sounding records that isn’t actually a live record. If the band were intending to capture even a snapshot of their live show, then I say job well done here.
Clever use of space, interesting arrangements that thrill with every new listen, and melodies that stay with you long after the (virtual) needle has left the groove. These are the things that make ‘Private Lives’ an album you will want to return to again and again. Add to that a keen knack of character observation and storytelling that matches the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel.
The songwriter manages to put you in the shoes of characters, where you can feel their pain, their despondency and their frustration of daily life. All the time emulating his heroes to great effect. Nods to The Boss are ever-present in the likes of ‘Run To Me Darlin’, but none so more than ‘Look What They Did’, Adam Weiner’s self-proclaimed follow-up to Springsteen’s ‘Atlantic City’. Armed with just a lone piano and a background of mournful strings he tells a tale of hopes and dreams being destroyed by profiteers who abandoned the city to ruin.
Stories of underdogs litter ‘Private Lives’ and its these tales that draw the listener in and make them feel akin to the stories and part of the album. Take a rowdy, rock n’ roll road trip with the likes of ‘Take A Little Ride Downtown’ or ‘Tea Time’. Witness Adam channel Elton John to perfection in the likes of ‘Charyse’ and the ballistic ball breaker that is ‘Nobody Else Will Believe You’. A song that makes me yearn for a live music fix live never before. Damn you Adam Weiner, damn you!
The highlights are plentiful. The fun time blast that is ‘The Fuckin You Get (For The Fuckin You Got)’ is like a profanity-filled Huey Lewis And The News cut. Nifty guitar licks and sleazy sax mix with Weiner’s piano runs. For me, it’s an album highlight. The live feel continues in the glorious and ramshackle ‘If I Die’. A jammed out, sloppy guitar lick introduces the song, the singer drawls “ok-ok” before slamming the keys and leading his band into a dirty, sweat-soaked blues workout. Like Exile-era Stones, this is late night, whisky soaked juke joint music, capturing the live energy and essence of a Low Cut Connie show to the max.
While Adam Wiener’s challenge of exploring internal lives has been realized with an ambitious and emotive double album containing great storytelling and quality songwriting, ‘Private Lives’ feels like a fly on the wall exclusive invite to a Low Cut Connie recording session. I like the way some songs feel unfinished and shortened, how some segue into others unexpectedly. This, along with the production give a ‘live in the studio’ feel that is perfect for a band that thrives on their live performances. Gospel-tinged sing-alongs rub shoulders with piano led barroom boogies, as Weiner sweats his heart and soul out with his tales of the underdogs that we can all relate to.
Buy Private Lives Here
Author: Ben Hughes