OTTAWA'S BLUES AND ROOTS DARLINGS THE LH EXPRESS NEW ALBUM PAINTING STARS
Painting Stars (June 2nd, 2023) marks a new era for The LH Express. Formerly known as The Lucas Haneman Express, these four musicians have streamlined their name and their sound on this new offering. The album as a whole is a strong statement, a burst of light and optimism in a time when the world so desperately needs it. Representing the L in "LH Express", Megan Laurence steps forward as lead vocalist on half of the album, making her long overdue mark on the Canadian blues scene with sheer presence and beautiful intensity. Representing the H in the band's name, Lucas Haneman's guitar playing and vocals are focused, passionate, and stronger than ever before, making this album a standout for him as a lyricist and instrumental wizard.
Long-time bassist, Martin Newman, holds it down with powerful lines and great backing vocals, and new drummer Valera Negovora brings a fresh energy to the band's studio sound, with heartfelt style and grace, sure to make you move and groove from the first note to the last. "After almost three years of silence in our industry, where many musicians couldn’t work, Painting Stars is an album where every member in our band has something to say and something they want to prove", says Laurence. "The LH Express is back with a renewed energy and a positive sound we can’t wait to share with the world."
The yin and yang nature of this collection of songs is a true representation of the times we are in. The back and forth between Laurence and Haneman gives Painting Stars a universal feeling, with notions of equality and strength being at the centre of every track. This is blues for the modern age at its finest.
Marking their renewal and return to recording, Painting Stars is a collection of 10 tracks offering a bluesy, soulful sonic experience. "Getaway" starts the album out by painting a picture of a new evolution for The LH Express. The listener is instantly curious to hear Haneman singing and playing a resonator guitar through an old-school telephone effect, and then the band walks into the sonic landscape in full HD. "Not Today" is Laurence’s debut as co-vocalist on this album and grabs the listener from the first verse. With her powerful delivery, she holds you in the palm of her hand. Another stand-out song featuring poignant lyrics about knowing when enough is enough, leaving the listener spellbound wondering what Laurence will do next.
"Cabin Fever'' an upbeat shuffle keeps the album evolving with new sounds and catchy melodies, and is an optimistic take on a time in the world when everyone was going stir-crazy. "Being Strong" provides a breath of fresh air in the form of a Ray Charles-inspired slow blues right when the listener needs it. A song inspired by the tragic death of George Floyd, Laurence entices and captivates from the beginning until the very end of this powerful ballad. "Snapshot" a song about love prevailing through trials and tribulations lifts the listener straight up with its crazy hooks, and pop mentality. Its lyrics illustrate Haneman's maturity as a songwriter.
"Hot Minute" is swampy gritty blues brought up to current times. Indeed this is one of the album's most rock & roll-influenced tracks featuring driving drums and bass by Newman and Negovora, and a standout slide guitar solo that is wild and melodic all at once.
"When I'm With Her" features soaring acapella harmonies by Laurence, Haneman, and Newman straight away, then the band crashes in with a mid-tempo hook. This song is a duet between Laurence and Haneman; a continuation with the LH Express unafraid to deliver their unique take on blues, with many twists and turns through quirky rhythms and playful riffs. "These Walls" is the album's most introspective song. Written in loving memory to the untimely passing of both lead singers' mothers this song tells a story with Laurence and Haneman delivering loving verses dedicated to their parents. The song describes the passage of time and the importance of enjoying every moment we are granted.
"Rising From The Dead" enters with aggression and fervor, with a wild Hendrix-inspired intro, then suddenly morphs into a hypnotic blues. The groove of the verses takes the listener straight to New Orleans, with lyrics that depict a divided world, trying desperately to get itself back together again. The choruses provide a catchy strong melody, and The LH Express is united. Serving up raw emotion on this track, that makes it impossible for one to sit still.
The title track “Painting Stars" has Laurence delivering a powerful vocal in the style of Raitt or Tedeschi. The entire band serves up the goods from Newman's driving bass work, to Negovora's rolling drum grooves, Haneman's emotional slide guitar solo, and Laurence's riveting vocal performance. "Painting Stars'' closes the album with renewed confidence and hope, leaving the listener captivated and ready for more.
"Painting Stars is The LH Express putting it all on the table with our hearts on our sleeves. Megan steps forward into the light on this album showing the world that she is a force to be reckoned with, and the rest of the band is right there alongside us, serving the music with 100% dedication", says Haneman.