Lazer Lloyd has been dubbed Israel’s king of the blues by reviewers, but his live performances and his recordings reveal another side of Lloyd – a musician who’s immersed in Americana.
“I’ve never in my life done exclusively blues. I’ve always mixed it up between blues, rock, folk, country,” said Lloyd, who’s capable of playing some blistering blues on guitar.
Old-style country music minus the twang and country blues dominate on his latest recording, Help Is On Its Way, to be released later this year.
While songs about personal love make up a good chunk of the 14-song album, several others reflect a different kind of love, love of country. They’re a meditation on Trump’s America, the “red” states, responsible for catapulting Donald Trump into the U.S. presidency in 2016. It’s evident that Lloyd, who was born Lloyd Paul Bluman in New York City, still has strong feelings for the country he left some 25 years ago for Israel.
One of the album’s songs, “Backstreets”, was released as an advance single and video on YouTube and has been viewed about 170,000 times. On Spotify and on Facebook, the numbers are staggering, with over one million streams and views on each platform. In the song, Lloyd suggests the deep political divisions in the U.S. are growing pains. He admits “freedom has had a rocky road in America,” but, seeming to channel the voices of Middle America, he goes on to admonish listeners with the line: “But if you can’t see the good, then I don’t want to hear about the bad.”
Looking at the bigger picture, in the song “Backstreets” Lloyd also worries that America, and freedom, may not survive the political turmoil. Comparing the U.S. to Rome, he sings: “We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day/ how such a powerful thing could crumble and fade/ wake up America, before freedom slips away.”
Lloyd wrote “Backstreets” after seeing boarded-up houses in Youngstown, Ohio, while he was on one of his U.S. tours. “There are just a lot of beautiful places in Middle America where there’s a lot to be learned, and there’s also question marks if that’s going to survive. Seems there’s a wave, a fad of a lot of young people just being mad about America, without knowing the real good things,” Lloyd said.
“And there’s a fad about just being mad about all the people in the middle of the country, without really knowing the good things that come from there, so I think there needs to be a little bit of balance.”
The album’s optimistic title song, “Help Is On Its Way”, puts a positive spin on the possibility of mending the rifts in
American society and hints at a spiritual solution. In it, Lloyd addresses young people, suggesting they “seek forgiveness and learn how to pray.”
Whether or not you agree with the messages of these two songs, they’re well-written and in Lloyd’s passionate deep baritone, a pleasure to listen to, as are the other tunes on the album.
Two-time Grammy-nominated Eric Paul, who’s worked with Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt and Emmylou Harris, is one of the producers of Lloyd’s new album, his seventh.
“Working with Eric Paul was just a great experience,” Lloyd said. “He’s a real sound genius and he was excellent at letting me stay myself while also giving some ideas that really helped and finding some amazing musicians that would know how to do what I do.”
Lloyd will perform songs from the new album in Sarnia, Ont., on April 13 at the Gateway Room, 265 Front St. N., 9:30 p.m., and in Toronto on April 14 at Alleycatz, 2409 Yonge St., 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door and $10 advance, on sale at LazerLloyd.com.