This review should serve as a wake-up call to all our readers who have not yet embraced the excellent music of Asheville’s MJ Lenderman or his primary band, Wednesday. The new live album, And the Wind (Live and Loose!), is compiled from two sold-out summer 2023 shows during a brief headline tour. Recorded live at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall and Los Angeles’ Lodge Room, this album serves as a true highlight reel, showcasing why MJ Lenderman’s record Boat Songs (2022) earned a spot among our top records of the year and why he deserves more attention.
This album captures the essence of Lenderman’s outstanding performances, providing a vivid glimpse into the musical brilliance that made Boat Songs a standout in 2022. For those who may have missed out, this live recording encapsulates the magic of Lenderman’s artistry, showcasing his undeniable talent on stage.
Lenderman doesn’t pull off this excellent live record by himself; he’s accompanied on stage by guitarist Jon Samuels (Friendship, 2nd Grade), drummer Colin Miller, and fellow Wednesday bandmates Xandy Chelmis (pedal steel) and Ethan Baechtold (bass). The album also features an appearance from Wednesday’s lead singer, Karly Hartzman, on “Toontown.” Most of the tracks here are from Boat Songs, but you also get a couple from his 2021 record, Ghost of Your Guitar Solo, which in their original presentation were much quieter but now command a significant stage presence, especially the rock-out ending to “Live Jack.” The other standout songs on this record include the newest releases since he signed to ANTI-, namely “Rudolph” and “Knockin’.” The guitar work in “Rudolph” is excellent and highlights how live songs can take on a different life, now double its studio track runtime.
The album concludes with a cover of the old country standard “Long Black Veil,” featuring the assistance of tour openers Styrofoam Winos. The track seamlessly aligns with his style, and his performance is so stellar that many listeners might not realize it’s a cover! Depending on personal taste, many fans will appreciate that Lenderman maintains a focused approach, as And the Wind (Live and Loose!) doesn’t include much banter between songs. Moreover, it lacks excessive crowd noise, allowing the listener to truly immerse themselves in the music. The live versions truly exude more rock energy, pulsating through their delivery and making each one a little different on this album.
Whether you’re a fan of MJ Lenderman’s solo work or his contributions to Wednesday, “And the Wind (Live and Loose!)” is a testament to his musical prowess and an unforgettable experiences he creates during his live shows. It is now evident that MJ Lenderman is an artist deserving of wider recognition. Now is the perfect time to dive into his musical catalog and discover the brilliance that has earned him a dedicated following especially as we eagerly await a new solo record.
“Knockin’” / “Dan Marino” / “Long Black Veil”
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Silver Jews / Lucero / Kurt Vile
MJ LENDERMAN REVIEW HISTORY
Boat Songs (2022)