Staff Picks

Gabe Lee - Drink The River

On new album Drink The River, Gabe Lee elevates tales collected from his time on the road, at home and beyond.

Gabe Lee - Drink The River Album Cover
July 10, 2023 11:26 am GMT

t-logo
f-logo
email logo
link icon

Link copied

Content Sponsor

Gabe Lee - Drink The River

Label: Torrez Music Group

Release Date: July 14, 2023

Producer:

Tracklisting:

1. The Wild

2. Even Jesus Got The Blues

3. Drink The River

4. Heart Don't Break

5. All I Can Do Is Write About It

6. Merigold

7. Lidocaine

8. Eveline

9. Property Line

Stories are often lauded for their power, but not so often for their value.

Power is concerned with externality; a story’s ability to galvanize, perplex, unite, entertain or infuriate people. Value is inherent; some stories are noteworthy by virtue of their own existence, even if not one soul other than those they concern is ever to hear them. Thank goodness for Gabe Lee then, who understands the value of stories first, and possesses a stellar ability to turn them into something both powerful and beautiful.

On new album Drink The River, his second in less than a year following 2022’s The Hometown Kid, he elevates tales collected from his time on the road, at home and beyond. The result is nine tracks whose depth make them feel much longer. Lee, as ever, knows when to hold back, both vocally and instrumentally.

His powerful, throaty voice has been showcased plenty of times on tracks like 'Alright Ok', 'Rusty' or 'Honky Tonk Hell', and his last two albums have swelled with electric guitar and road trip euphoria. Here, delicate strings and gentle vocals allow stories to lead the band.

Take a track like 'Merigold' – which is named not in the great tradition of Gabe Lee songs with a woman’s name as their title, but after the town in Mississippi – which tells the story of a woman who dies of cancer. Lee understands how to balance brutal reality, resisting the temptation to talk of some mystery sickness – “her cancer gave no warning, dug its roots into her ground” – with lyrical beauty – “wild as the kudzu on the highways of the south”. It’s echoed in its instrumentation; at track six out of nine, it’s the first one that feels truly sinister.

Elsewhere, bluegrass influences reign, with fiddles and mandolins dancing alongside their narrators. The album is wistful, covering topics like addiction on 'Even Jesus Got The Blues', a good old-fashioned land dispute on 'Property Line', the pulls and pitfalls of lost love on reimagined fan favourite 'Eveline', and the devastation of an early dementia diagnosis on 'Lidocaine'; “Lord I know I’m not insane, just I took a turn off memory lane, and did I pray or didn’t I pray not to forget you before I’m gone”, he sings.

Lidocaine is a numbing agent. With Gabe Lee at the helm, Drink The River is its antithesis, reminding us that numbing is just a coat for the body that can’t erase the value of its own story.

9/10

Gabe Lee's 2023 album, Drink The River, is released July 14th via Torrez Music Group.

For more on Gabe Lee, see below:

Written by Holly Smith
Content Sponsor
Album - Loretta Lynn - Back to the Country
lists

ESSENTIALSThe Most Controversial Country Songs

Artist - Lauren Watkins 12
lists

ESSENTIALSLauren Watkins' Songs Ranked

Artist - Zach Bryan & Kacey Musgraves
lists

ESSENTIALSEvery No. 1 Country Song on the Billboard Hot 100

Artist - Bailey Zimmerman 10
lists

ESSENTIALSThe Best Bailey Zimmerman Songs