Lenny Lashley’s Gang of One – Five Great Egrets

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Lenny Lashley's Gang of One

Five Great Egrets - Dirty Mick Records

Darkbuster frontman Lenny Lashley has a distinct solo persona, expressing Oi! inspired streetpunk themes from a grass roots acoustic folk-punk lens.  They’re the type of tunes that you’d find opening for Chuck Ragan, Darious Koski or Ben Nichols during a folk punk festival while running the risk of outperforming the headliners.  Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One’s latest album, Five Great Egrets, defines itself as a feel good affair – one that is light on abrasion and heavy on flow.  In other words, it really hits the spot if you have a hankering for an easy flowing folk punk outing.  

For fans looking for something familiar, there are plenty of big folk-punk anthems.  Opener “Not Sorry” is an unapologetic full band romp that offers no regrets or looking back, while “Why You (WFWM)” effortlessly plugs away with Lashley’s unmistakable mid-tempo swagger. “Joe” even embeds a smooth flowing dose of tin whistle finesse amidst the sullen strumming and droning accordion of another less than cheery walk down memory lane.  Lashley is clearly working through some tough feelings, but manages to keep his chin up and future open.

Songs like “Joe” feel effortless in their melodic execution, subtly drawing upon accordion and tin whistle flourishes with a smooth, folky charm.  Similarly, “Push It” finds a way to integrate a generous horn section that leverages this brass in an almost big-band kind of way. There’s even an unexpected hip hop guest vocalist on “Foolish One,” a choice sure to garner mixed feelings, but worth a nod for risk taking. These moments hint at Lashley’s steady evolution as a solo artist, his willingness to branch out and take chances, and expand beyond his traditional harmonica and guitar persona. 

The album closes with “Redeemer,” a slow moving piano ballad enhanced with some “yacht rock” inspired brass and female vocal harmonies.  That might sound a little out of place (and is somewhat of a guilty pleasure), but it’s delivered with such emotive truth and conviction that listeners will likely embrace it at face value.  The risk taking and infusion of inspiration so foreign to Lashley’s established punk persona makes for some clear parallels with the recent solo material from The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn.  In other words, “Redeemer” is just generally a great song and should be judged as such, not penalized for taking risks.  It’s an inspiring note to end the album on, and opens up endless possibilities for future projects.

Five Great Egrets is exactly what Lashley needed to produce for his third solo solo effort.  Confidently presenting elements of his most practiced and honed music while taking new and exciting risks has paid off.  Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One expands beyond the expected, engaging listeners with more than the status quo.