The Low Anthem

Smart Flesh

I love this band. Of all the albums I’ve heard and/or reviewed over the last 18 months or so, none has impressed me more than The Low Anthem’s previous release, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin. The opening track on that album is so sweetly evocative, and the songs that followed are all engagingly unpredictable. And now here comes Smart Flesh, another collection of songs with really smart lyrics, and a consistent tone that evokes a sepia-toned past no matter what the tempo or the tune. The stuff The Low Anthem puts out just begs to be heard by the light of a kerosene lantern. There’s a hint of Leonard Cohen and a smidgen of The Band, but it’s all Anthemic, and all their own. Ben Knox Miller wrote most of the songs, and he turns in most of the vocals here. “Ghost Woman Blues” leads off the album, and like so many of the Anthem’s songs, it’ll haunt you. “Apothecary Love” is a waltz that might transport you back to Deadwood more than a century ago. When Jocie Adams sings, it gets even better, as on “Love and Altar.” One reviewer described Anthem’s music as “solemnly beautiful.” That sounds about right to me, too.