Hearing Aide: Midnight North “Under the Lights”

Midnight North‘s third album captures the growth of a band on the road, the trials and errors, the good and the bad, all celebrated in Under the Lights, a perfect summer album. With a sound that draws comparisons to Railroad Earth, Tedeschi Trucks Band and Donna the Buffalo, the entire Americana album has a ‘never too light, never too heavy’ quality of perfection in song writing and delivery, making Under the Lights a must listen.

Recorded by David Simon-Baker (Los Lobos, ALO, Jackie Greene, Mother Hips) at the Greene Room and Allegiant Studios in California, Under the Lights is a repeat listen album – each track has a familiarity that invites passive and active listening. With a lineup of Grahame Lesh (vocals, guitar), Elliott Peck (vocals, guitar), Alex Jordan (vocals, organ), and Connor O’Sullivan (bass), the band’s young musicianship comes alive throughout the album with insightful, relatable lyrics and a consistent flow that makes it hard to tune out.

The high energy Americana-rock “Under the Lights” kicks off the album fantastically, reckoning the Traveling Wilbury’s tight harmony and memorable lyrics. On both “Playing a Poor Hand Well” and “Greene County,” the gorgeous vocals of Elliott Peck shine brightly, a gentle Midwestern accent sliding along her flawless delivery. “Everyday,” a sing-along with great potential live, has excellent horns alongside excellent vocals, one of the many strengths on this album while “Roamin’,” the first darker turn on the album, rolls with an intensity that balances the lighter tracks that begin the album.

Grahame Lesh singing “Back to California” is appropriately reminiscent of Phil’s There and Back Again solo album from 2001; there is a distinct similarity with a few tracks between the father and son’s initial releases. “One Night Stand” a twangy blues number with Peck on lead, is followed by “Echoes,” a high energy Mudcrutch-style rocker. “The Highway Song” is the single off the album, although it is one of many strong tracks. The slick guitar lick from Grahame and geographic tour of the country make for a classic country song that can get stuck in your head in the best way possible. Rounding out the album is “Little Black Dog,” telling the kind of story you might hear on Garcia and Grisman’s Not for Kids Only. 

Key Tracks: Under the Lights, Everyday, Back to California, The Highway Song, Little Black Dog