By JENNIFER LEVESQUE
For the Advocate
Notorious for her vocal range, local singer/songwriter Lexi Weege releases her second solo record, “lw.”
Weege started performing when she was really young with her mother’s traveling cabaret show. “I was exposed to all types of music, smoky bars and sparkling costumes from a really young age and was hooked,” Weege explained.
She fell in love with the classics like Elvis, Barbara Streisand and Billie Holiday and learned to imitate what she heard from them, until she found her own voice, which would make sense as to why sometimes you feel like you are stepping back in time when listening to her music.
“In lieu of college I hit the road and started making records right out of high school and that’s where you’ll find me to this day,” she said, “I just got back from a stint in the desert with JJ Slater, my collaborator and fellow restless soul.”
The record was made with Weege’s friends, including Slater on guitar and arrangements. Josh Hirst on bass, drums by Kade Parkin and Henry Condon and keys by Parker McQueeney. It was recorded over a handful of different spaces around the Valley by Anni Cassella, while the full band sessions were recorded by Cassella at Sleeper Cave in Williamsburg with Andy Cass.
“‘Soda From the Gun’ is my sobriety tale, having sworn off the bottle about two years ago this January,” Weege explained, “Putting back the pieces of my life I guess is ongoing, but if a mess like me can do it, I think anyone can.” It’s a beautiful tune that will have you dancing in your seat and listening intently to hear the story. It gave me “Coconut” vibes and I love that.
I bet “Mountain” is fun to see performed live. You can hear the emotion in her voice build up throughout the entire song with the band just totally jamming out. “Roses” is a short, sweet and soft tune, a love song. “He wore roses on his shoulders, earth in his hair.”
“Sun On My Skin” has a ‘70’s rock vibe for sure, especially with whatever pedal they are using for the guitar in this track. This track is Weege’s seasonal depression “battle cry.” But with a touch of funk and a pinch of being stoic. “I’m the loneliest I have ever been and you’re right next to me.”
The sultry sounds of “Mile 45” is a dark cowboy tale of a night at the saloon gone wrong, Weege said. She also wants everyone to check out Hirst’s bass on the song. “It’s a highlight for me,” she said. “Ocean” is dreamy with a touch of heartbreak … her vocal switch at 3:10 shakes you out of your daydream. “I keep dreaming of those eyes, so big and blue”
“I’m proud of the work I did on this record, most of it was written during a pretty dark time in my life,” she said, “I’m finally past the point of the songs being painful reminders of a rough patch. Now I just enjoy them and enjoy telling the stories.”
JJ Slater’s latest release – a self-titled EP – is a collection of seven funky, bluesy rock tunes with clever lyrics to soothe the soul.
Slater grew up in eastern Massachusetts and spent most of his time in high school listening to his records and improvising over the Allman Brothers and jazz albums. He later emerged in the Valley music scene with Humble Digs – his songwriting outlet for years – and a funk band called Organ Transplant.
“My main focus nowadays is touring my original music, whether acoustic, in a jazzy duo with Lexi, or with a full band, and prepping a body of work I wrote in Taos, New Mexico last summer,” Slater said.
This latest release was recorded in the months leading up to that time spent in New Mexico and he is labeling it as a “best-of mixtape” recorded with friends at Sleeper Cave Records in Williamsburg. “Representing a transitional period in my songwriting from pandemic shut-in to full-on travelogue road dog,” he added.
The video for the opening track and single for the album, “Good News” won “Best Music Video” at the Ashfield Film Festival. It’s a funny video starring Slater running around town in his bathrobe collecting newspapers that feature the lyrics to the song. The lyrics act as clues on this quest he takes throughout the video, all while in his bathrobe with impressive silent film-esque acting. Slater said that the song is about finding the silver lining in bouts of bad luck.
The next track resembles a power ballad. “I wrote “The Naked Sky” while me and Lexi repeatedly tried to sneak into a Tedeschi Trucks Band concert at the Pine Theater,” Slater recalls, “and saw a bunch of shooting stars; it’s about knowing what to wish for the moment one passes, much like being able to seize opportunities in life the moment one presents itself.” The song captures that essence perfectly.
“Universal Prayer ” is whimsical and light. I think it’s my personal favorite on the album. The layers of percussion and guitars are almost fairy taleish. Slater explained it’s “about building the confidence to be completely vulnerable in telling someone you love them, platonically or romantically.”
Cheeky and fun, the lyrics of “The Beast” are my favorite. ‘People you better step back, keep your hands to yourself, and your smoke out my ass’ may just be my new saying when I’m in a mood.
“‘Fernet’ is about the seemingly infinite wall between two shy strangers,” Slater said about the ending track, “in this case a bartender and barfly who find that space with a ‘bartender’s handshake’. We recorded it after polishing off a bottle of Fernet.” The wailing guitars turned into whisper vocals at the end of this song is a perfect way to wrap up the album. Like a cinematic ending of a film, the end credits.
Weege and Slater will perform together with their band at First Night in Northampton (Dec. 31) at 10 p.m. at Lyman Hall. They will also be releasing a couple singles together in early 2024. Slater is planning on releasing an album later on that was written in Taos, New Mexico and recorded locally.