Eric Lea's "Meadowlark"
Eric Summer (real name Eric Lea*) was the viola player who crafted the lush, orchestral character of XUK's first album "Love Hits". Soon after XUK stopped playing live shows in 2008 he told me he had been working on some songs and would maybe put out an album some time. That time was January 2021 and it was well worth the wait!
I literally can't stop listening to this superb album and when I'm not listening to it the songs are playing on a loop inside my head! Both lyrically and musically, it's nothing short of stunning!
I love the fact that there are no conventional drums or keyboards to overwhelm the stripped-down, intimate delivery of these ten wonderful songs. Eric's rhythm parts sounded to me like they were crafted by tapping various household objects. When I asked him about it he confirmed this was the case. Obviously the dominant musical elements are multi-layered viola parts, but Eric told me years ago that he had been working on his acoustic guitar playing. Apparently become quite adept at it. The songs are delivered with a bare-bones, acoustic quality which perfectly compliments Eric's vocals and perfectly compliment the stories told. The fact that Eric is a classically trained musician obviously comes across in his viola playing but also is clear in the way he's written his songs and performed his vocal harmonies which are glorious.
I was tempted to review each song individually here but that would deprive readers of the sheer joy of discovering these songs for themselves. Suffice it to say that I highly recommend you get over to Bandcamp and get this album right now!
*The reason Eric Lea was known as Eric Summer in XUK was a misunderstanding on my part. My friend Paul Hart suggested Eric as a possible addition to XUK's line-up. Paul and Eric knew each other from the time they lived and worked together in Colorado. They moved to Los Angeles at the same time and Paul had two phone numbers for Eric - one for the summer and one for the rest of the year. So he entered this second number in his contacts as "Eric Summer" and that's what I copied down. It wasn't until much, much, much later that I found out this wasn't his real name. Why Eric was okay appearing with XUK under an assumed name I have never asked. Protecting his reputation? Possibly. We may never know.