Independent hard rock act Lullwater has made quite the name for itself since its founding in 2007 in its home state of Georgia. The band has released two full-length studio recordings, an EP and toured the nation with even more well-known acts, such as Sevendust, Theory of a Deadman and Amaranthe, spreading its music to countless thousands of fans. The band – John Strickland (vocals, guitar), Daniel Binnie (lead guitar), Roy “Ray” Beatty (bass) and Joseph Wilson (drums) – has done it all largely without major label backing, growing its fame largely organically. Late this past February, the band continued that course with the release of its third full-length studio recording (and fourth overall recording) Voodoo. The 11-song record puts the band members’ talents on full display from start to end while also presenting some equally interesting lyrical content. The album’s latest single ‘Empty Chamber’ is one of the songs that puts both elements on display. It will be addressed shortly. ‘Similar Skin,’ another of the songs featured in the album, does just as much to put those abilities on display. ‘Fight of Your Life,’ which comes late in the album’s 50-minute run, is yet another of the album’s most notable entries. It is hardly the last example of the band members’ abilities. The album’s opener, ‘Curtain Call,’ ‘Into The Sun’ and the album’s closer, ‘Suffer Not’ are just as notable as the previous trio of noted songs. Together with the rest of the album’s works, the whole of Voodoo proves clearly why Lullwater has been so successful for such a long time and why this album could be the one that breaks Lullwater into the mainstream, support providing.
Lullwater’s recently released third full-length studio recording Voodoo is a strong new offering from the Athens, GA-based band. Given the right support, it could potentially be the record that breaks this band – which has done everything largely without major label backing – into the mainstream. It is a record that shows without doubt, that the band deserves such acclaim. That is proven in part through the album’s latest single, ‘Empty Chamber.’ In regards to its musical arrangement, the song will appeal to fans of bands, such as Buckcherry and Small Town Titans with its energy and catchy hooks. The dual guitar approach of Strickland and Binnie couples with Wilson’s powerhouse drumming, Beatty’s low end and Strickland’s vocal delivery, to make an overall arrangement that is an immediately radio-ready work. What is interesting here is the while the hooks are so catchy and the musicians’ talent undeniable, the song, as Strickland recently discussed, is actually quite a deep work. Strickland said of the song’s lyrical content, that the song centers on the issue of dealing with personal emotional struggles.
“We all have experienced, and been in, a moment of excruciating emotional pain, and ‘Empty Chamber’ was written during one of those moments,” Strickland said. “The son has an upbeat tempo and happy melodic vibe, but the lyrics are depressing and filled with anxiety. Sometimes everything in life can be going great, but you still struggle with emotional pain and confusion. I feel ‘Empty Chamber’ embodies that emotion.”
Strickland’s explanation makes the song that much more powerful, when considering the juxtaposition of that upbeat musical arrangement and the depth of the song’s lyrics. The contrast shows what is going on in life on the surface, while the lyrics show what is going on just beneath the surface. That is very good thinking on the band’s part. Strickland sings in the song’s lead verse, “How your heart beats now/The strain, the pain/Confusion on your face/Where are you now/Who’s your higher place/A beautiful soul once told me/Happiness is like a butterfly/Gently lands down once before it dies.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Here I am again/Strung out/And my mind’s a loaded gun/Empty chambers all except for one/You’ll be the death of me/I said I swore/I know it’s coming true/Goodbye death…and to all of you.” The mixed emotions are just as prevalent as the song enters its bridge and final chorus refrain. Strickland’s statements about the song’s lyrical concept in understanding these verses. Here is someone who is dealing with some very strong emotions despite everything around him/her seeming to go so well. That contrast displayed through the song’s musical and lyrical content makes this song one of the record’s most notable additions, but hardly the only of the album’s best entries. ‘Similar Skin’ is another of the album’s high points.
‘Similar Skin’ stands out in part through its southern sludge rock-tinged musical arrangement. The heavy, trudging guitars immediately lend themselves to comparisons to bands, such as Corrosion of Conformity, Clutch and Brand New Sin. Even more interesting to note of the arrangement is the addition of the horns to the arrangement. The addition of the horns to the arrangement is subtle, as they are used solely to flesh out the song’s choruses. That subtle use goes a long way toward making the song’s arrangement that much more engaging and entertaining, because of its subtlety. Add in the familiar yet still strong finish for the four-minute-plus work, and the song proves musically from start to finish to be a certain fan favorite if only for that reason. Of course, the song’s musical arrangement is not its only element. Its lyrical content is also worth addressing.
The song’s lyrical content comes across as a statement from a subject, telling another figure that he/she needs to get his/her act together and stop feeling sorry for himself/herself. This inferred right from the song’s lead verse, as Strickland sings, “Who would have thought/You were the quiet type at all/Couple things that I need from you/Get up, get out/Make some moves/Look down/Follow your soul/Eyes on the prize/Now get ready to roll/Dial back/All the saturation/A little less talk about the same conversation/Get up, get out, get out/Get up, get out, get out/Get up, get out, get out/I don’t owe you anything.” Here in this verse, we get an individual telling someone else to move forward and push on. This message is advanced even more as Strickland sings in the song’s second verse, “Slow down/Quiet your mind/Notice the things that you’re willing to find/If it feels like you’re stuck in a loop/Breathe in, breathe out/try to regroup/Stand tall/Pull from within/Nothing to lose/Just similar skin/Dial back all the saturation/Tired of this talk/Tired of this saturation/Get up, get out, get out/Get up, get out, get out/get up, get out, get out/I don’t owe you anything.” The reminder by the song’s subject once more that “I don’t owe you anything” is really what leads to the supposition that this subject is telling someone else that he/she needs to get his/her life in order. Considering the statements made in the verses, the argument in favor of that message is strengthened even more. Going back to the song’s musical arrangement, the force in that arrangement adds to the strength in the argument about the song’s lyrical content. It adds to that sense of someone who is frustrated with another person. When both elements are joined as one, the whole is a strong statement to which plenty of listeners will find themselves able to relate. That in turn makes the song yet another high point of Voodoo. It is just one more way in which Voodoo shows its strengths. ‘Fight of your Life’ is yet another example of Voodoo’s strengths.
Where ‘Empty Chamber’ deals with a person’s inner emotional turmoil and where ‘Similar Skin’ seemingly features someone wanting to knock some sense into someone else, ‘Fight of Your Life’ comes across as a much more encouraging and positive work. The song’s catchy, up-tempo musical arrangement is just as viable as a radio work as the other noted songs (and others not noted here). It lends itself easily to comparisons to any number of the band’s more well-known counterparts with its solid time keeping, driving guitars and harmonies crafted through its low-end. The positive vibes created through the song’s musical arrangement carry through to its lyrical content, which is just as certain to put a smile on listeners’ faces with allegorical nature.
Strickland sings here, “Boy/More of a man than most of us/Too young to know the dreadful truth inside/The joy/It slips away/Begins to rust/Relentlessly restrain the need to cry…Hang on/It’ll be alright/Stand strong through the darkest of your nights…It won’t be long till vision clears/Find your eyes/They will dry with tears.” Some of the content is difficult to decipher here without a lyrics sheet to resource. That aside, it is relatively clear as to what Strickland is singing about in this case. This is someone addressing a young man who has been through hell, but who is at the same time reminding that young man, that things can and do get better. The subject is telling that person that it is okay to let out the pain held inside. Strickland goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Love/Mother you have given all your blood/The years you’re never wavering/you/The innocent/The warrior child/Brave your way to take this world apart/So surreal/these fragile battle lines/Questions…through my mind/How can this unwind…” The song’s subject once again goes on to remind the noted figure that things will be okay even as bad as things might seem at the moment. Again, it is that reminder to listeners that while things might be bad in their lives. It is a positive, uplifting message that, when coupled with the song’s upbeat arrangement, is sure to become yet another favorite among listeners from this record. When it is considered along with the two other works discussed here, other strong points, such as ‘Curtain Call,’ ‘Into The Sun’ and the album’s closer, ‘Suffer Not,’ and the other songs not directly noted here, the whole of the album becomes a work that proves the third may in fact be the charm for Lullwater, support provided.
Lullwater’s third full-length studio recording Voodoo works plenty of positive magic on listeners from the beginning to the end of its 11-song, 50-minute run. It is a work that proves — thanks to its multitude of radio-ready musical arrangements and thought-provoking lyrical content – that the third time may be the charm for this Georgia-based band. The album’s most recent single ‘Empty Chamber’ is one of the songs that serves to support those statements. The same can be said of ‘Similar Skin,’ ‘Fight of Your Life,’ ‘Curtain Call,’ ‘Into The Sun,’ ‘Suffer Not’ and the rest of the album’s works. The songs directly discussed here and those not immediately addressed all support that statement in their own way. All things considered, they make Voodoo the record that could be that lucky charm that breaks the band into the mainstream. More information is available online Voodoo along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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