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The Second Time's
The Charm

To be truthful, the first time was the charm. This is just icing on the cake. Muth and crew steamrolled right over me with their self-titled first album a little over a year ago and I have been trumpeting their cause since. You can call what they play country or Americana or anything you damn well please, to me it's just great music. And that first album--- it was love at first listen. I might even be able to tell you why if you wanted to sit down over a few beers and partake of the Lost High Roller musical charm, but I might not. Some things are sometimes impossible to put into words and the words are sometimes impossible to find. It's a paradox.

Starlight Hotel, though, is not. It is a boxcar tied to that absolutely excellent first album's engine, heading on down the tracks to maybe not fame and fortune, but respect. God knows it is hard enough to get, and I'm not talking about the idolatry being passed as respect these days. Most of that is mere wolf in sheep's clothing. I am talking about the real thing--- that honest appreciation which is not mentioned but felt, no need for words. I know a musician who said once that he would trade all the applause he ever got for one honest tear. To him, that was respect. That is the kind of respect I have for this band. That is the kind of respect I have for this (and the first) album.

When I hear Starlight Hotel, the song, I hear Cowboy's Scott Boyer during his Boyer & Talton phase. I hear the nuances of Everyone Has a Chance To Feel, one of my go-to tracks when I'm feeling a bit down, and deep down I sigh the same sigh. I hear New Mexico and it is a perfect bookend to Muth's own Never Be Fooled Again from the first album. I hear Let's Just Be Friends For Tonight and If I Can't Trust You With a Quarter (How Can I Trust You With My Heart)--- a song which, by the way, is as good a metaphor for failed relationships as I've ever heard--- I hear the best of the old Country & Western I grew up on back in the fifties and sixties. And when I hear Before the Night Is Gone, I get all balled up inside just like I do when I hear The Last Bus from, again, that outstanding first album.

Let me tell you something about writing reviews. The hardest ones to write are the ones about the music you most love. You walk a fine line between stalker idiocy and complete objectivity. At times like this, I struggle with every word, much as Zoe Muth struggles with her lyrics, I am sure. But I'm telling you, if it came down to one or the other I would choose stalker idiocy because feeling that way I at least know I'm alive. I know it every time I hear Starlight Hotel or Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers. I know it because I would rather fight to get this music heard than buckle to some of the mediocre pap being passed off as music these days. I know it because this music makes me care. Sometimes I think music this good is the only good reason to hang on. So I'm hanging on.

Check this band out. If you don't get it, fine, but at least give them a listen. They are one of the reasons I write. They are one of the reasons I still love music. They are Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers. And I state that with all due respect. And then some.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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