Scarlet Skies

Often in life, people are lucky enough to get a break by virtue of who they are. But eventually one has to make it on his or her own. In this case, the band Midnight North, co-fronted by lead guitarist and songwriter Grahame Lesh, son of the Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh, offers plenty of autonomous staying power with its second album, Scarlet Skies. Four years after the 28-year-old Lesh began working with bassist Connor O'Sullivan and classically trained singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Elliott Peck, Midnight North has produced a cohesive, satisfying package. Lesh shows a lot of poise and self-discipline, offering crafty and creative lead passages without overpowering the mix. The band's feet are firmly planted in 2015, but the album makes a few nods to the past as well. On the anthemic “Wind and Roses,” one can detect some Jerry Garcia guitar influences, and in on the mid-tempo “Turn Around,” a little Jefferson Airplane. “The Cactus Tree,” a take about making a life out in the desert, is my favorite, with Lesh's twangy, spy-movie-like guitar passages, guest Jason Crosby's fiddlin' and Peck's ethereal voice.