Don’t let the band name, album title, and cover art fool you. Lee Harvey Osmond’s A Quiet Evil is far removed from the crusty, demonic racket the aforementioned suggests, though the band isn’t afraid to explore the dark. Led by Tom Wilson (of Blackie & the Rodeo Kings fame) and with some help from the Cowboy Junkies’ Michael and Margo Timmins, Lee Harvey Osmond confidently travels the dusty, folky lane of the No Depression Highway—albeit with the lights off and sometimes in the wrong lane. Opener “The Love of One” sets the pace early: Half-whispered, spooky vocals from Wilson swirl around Aaron Goldstein’s ethereal pedal steel. The jazzy “Cuckoo’s Nest” betters it and is punctuated by piercing horns. Traces of fellow sonic travelers like Mark Pickerel, Howe Gelb, Steve Wynn, and Tom Waits are abound, but Wilson and the Timminses (along with about 15 rotating musicians—this band is the quietest collection of 17 you’ll ever hear) have their own bleak muse to follow: a world of teetering sanity (“You drove me crazy / And I’m going to stay that way,” is not played for laughs), murderers (“Blades of Grass” and the JFK-assassination-inspired “Parkland”), and of course, the devil (“Lucifer’s Blues”). Inevitably, Wilson finds there are no answers to explaining the world’s ills, but he sounds great arriving at that dark conclusion.
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