Lew Card

Lew Card
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     Lew Card is an expert in the grace that comes from a song constructed at a slow and steady pace. “Nothin’ to it but to do it,” the Chattanooga transplant says of his full-length solo debut, Lowcountry HiFi, a rustic, refined collection nine songs born without a true timestamp. “This is something that, 30 years down the road, you can pop it in and it’ll be the same thing.”

     The Austinite has branched out from the bands he has led since relocating from Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 2002. His music is “jug band meets county blues.” A style that harkens back to when he first started writing at age 12.

     “I’ve written hundreds of songs,” he says. “Being in bands for so long, I saw the process of what was working and what wasn’t working and wanted to try my own hand.”

     That means fewer banjos, more guitar leads and small, skin-run drum kits. “I think there are only six or eight cymbal crashes on the whole record,” Card reveals. “Less is more.” It’s all rustic, but without a cheap feel, refined but without too much polish.

     You could say Card learned from Ralph Stanley or John Prine, or the pickers back in Tennessee he’d play alongside as a teenager. “The kind of ‘blue hairs’ who don’t clap unless you can hold you own,” he explains. He quickly took to the mandolin, which taught him about dynamics.

     “The good guys can play a waltz just the same as they can play ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’,” he’ll tell you. “They’ll give everything a certain drive.”

     Card carried his mandolin to Murfreesboro, where he enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University to pick up a degree in the recording program, however, he brought his guitar too and soon enough found himself in bands. That brought him down to Austin where he linked up with writer Dao Strom and the outlaw country singer Reid Wilson.

     Gunhands followed, then Johnny Dango & the Stillwater Pioneers. He got the itch to pursue his own career and play just the way he wanted. An EP emerged in late 2012. Now, a year-and-a-half later, Card’s staring down album No. 1.

     Lowcountry Hi-Fi is a songwriter’s record that draws on Card’s 20-plus years as a picker, songwriter and singer.

     “I wanted to write songs that weren’t intrusive,” he says. “Maybe they’ll move you one way or another, but they’re not intrusive. You can put it on and clean your house, or drive down the road and get some barbecue. Short and sweet; in and out. That was the big point here: Write simple songs and let ‘em go.”

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