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  Lonesome Sky  
  The Lost Patrol  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Brett Spaceman  

A lone rider disappears into the sunset, his long shadow pointing eerily back from the haze. An aging surfer yearns for one last wave as a metaphor for lost youth. You provide the pictures. The Lost Patrol already have the soundtrack. The existential collection, if you like. Lonesome Sky.

What becomes clear listening to The Lost Patrol is that they're on the wrong coast. They are west coast. They are Western. They are Hollywood, and they are Mulholland Drive. If we were playing guessing games, New York would be pretty far down the list. Instead we're playing wicked games! Lost they may be, but I think they're exactly where they want to be.

It begins innocently enough. Cup At My Krater is almost busked. It's up-tempo too, like a cheerful version of Tears For Fears Mad World, before they layer on the keys and strings. After that, things get twangy, but don't turn that dial. The Lost Patrol have a secret weapon in their saddlebag that'll have you playing hopscotch in a prairie, wearing a dress, before you can say Duane Eddy. Guaranteed. Step forward Danielle Kimak Stauss.

What a voice! And yet it arrives so unexpectedly. The ambience created by The Lost Patrol's music had me preparing for a gravel-voiced troubadour. Think Tindersticks, Madrugada, etc. Oh no sir, Danielle has other ideas. Hers is a rich, emotive, and gracefully feminine vocal. I am amazed by the clarity and the range displayed by a so-called 'little known' act. Plus she has that rare gift of sounding beautiful without resorting to any tease. (Mazzy Star, anyone?)

While no one would dispute Stauss has a fabulous voice, what I feel could elevate her to greatness status is her sense of phrasing. Sinead O'Connor had this, Beth Gibbons, Liz Frazer too: a love of words themselves and the different ways to make them sound. "Kiss me like we're in a movie," goes Lonesome Sky. I can't imagine those other three luminaries singing it any better. Gorgeous vocals are only part of the story though. The ammunition to this particular weapon comes in the form of the Mosrite guitar. This eclectic range of guitars (now highly collectible) lend the band their surf-western sound. Hugely cinematic, one listen to either Mayday, Stars Collide, or the enthralling Velveteen, and we're transported into a widescreen panorama.

Such emotive range then and such diversity. Few bands can make you weep one moment and smile the next. Heaven Herein is more curvaceous than Garbage, less throwaway than Curve. And Neon Red could be the sound of The The performing Heartland at the Club Silencio. Nearing the end, don't be surprised to see Tarantino and Lynch fighting over the use of Stars Collide in their next film.

The Lost Patrol are Badalamenti meets Morricone. Blue hotels and ghost highways. To see them play live must be very special indeed.

"Won't you ride it on baby?"

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