“Miles above the Ground” opens this six song set of originals from Western Massachusetts phenom Eric Lee who brings his smooth, compelling voice and introspection to this strong four and a half minute composition. Lee has more than a grasp of the vibrations he sends forth, playing violins, mandolin, electric violin and guitar with the music here focused, entertaining and highly commercial. “The Raven” shuffles along under J.J. O’Connell’s drums and the bass of Rhees Williams while “Rose and Storm” adds a balance.
Critics can compare the storytelling of a Gordon Lightfoot to the dramas offered by Jim Croce, but to say that Eric Lee paints with his own style and magic is to understate what this artist has crafted. And take caution – there are many, many singer/songwriters out there named Eric Lee, so one has to seek out the music that I’m writing about here. Lee has performed on the road with the great Eric Andersen, Peter Rowan of The Rowan Brothers and Seatrain, John Gorka, Vance Gilbert, the Grand Slambovians and so many others. It’s easy to get mistaken for a backing musician, as Carole King and Neil Diamond at first were thought by the public to be songwriters dabbling with hit records.
Time proved both King and Diamond to be major forces beyond their work for other artists and this Lee is himself making waves regionally outside of the background circuit he participated in for the last decade and more. With Jim Henry’s electric guitar and dobro fitting in perfectly with this quartet and some backing vocals from Brie Sullivan and Max Wareham, these half a dozen songs stand up to repeated spins with “Hands of Fortune” and “To Write You a Song” truly remarkable. At the risk of sounding overly complimentary, those who have followed this writer’s thousands of reviews over the past almost five decades know that I can be as rough on poorly made recordings as I can hand out the accolades on the ones with merit. There’s something very special here. You’ll know you’ve reached the right Eric Lee as this music stands in a class by itself.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.