Low Country Hi-Fi
It’s Hard to Be Lew Card

If you count Jason Eady and Sturgill Simpson amongst your favorite songwriters of the moment, go ahead and make room on that list for Austin’s Lew Card. Card, originally from Tennessee, fits right in with the best of the neo-traditional country movement in Americana music; his style is all stroll, lemonade afternoons, and songs that cover Ulyssian distances in small steps. His first full-length release, Low Country Hi-Fi, is a brief venture of nine songs that play like a garage carpenter’s project: rustic and simple, but brimming with personality and pride. His songwriting chops are admirable, even when traveling well-worn paths in songs like “Let’s Tie One On” (“My hearts on fire and yours is blue,” he sings, “so let’s tie one on baby tonight, just me and you.”) “Dreaming of Josephine” could’ve been penned or recorded by any of the legendary artists your parents recommended to you, with even Card’s vocals evoking Bob Dylan as he catalogues his dreams: “I had the one about a winning streak/ picking pedal steel with Sneaky Pete … but tonight I’m dreaming of my Josephine.” The album closer, “Nothing to Prove,” channels The Band’s “Ophelia,” with twang worthy of Levon Helm himself. The instrumentation throughout is also top-notch, as is to be expected with players the caliber of Cindy Cashdollar on hand. And even if Low Country Hi-Fi could have used a little more “pick up the tempo” energy here or there — it’s a bit slow overall and leaves you hanging in places for anthemic fiddle breakdowns that never come — it passes the river float/road trip play-the-whole-way-through test with flying colors. — CODY OXLEY