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Lee Koch
Whole Heart
(self-released)
www.leekochmusic.com


Heartfelt, American music makes my world go round and round most of the time. Lee Koch makes that kind of music; the kind of music that has an unmistakeably American bent, country at its heart, but with a more modern sound and a radio-friendly, poppy bent. That is not a bad thing at all.

Koch's voice draws from the same magnificently unique well as Brett Dennen. His songs are earnest and filled with heart, but the delivery and unique voice are what elevates these songs above so many of his peers'. Whole Heart starts off with a beautiful acoustic song called “Journey To Unfold” that is based around acoustic guitars and light drumbeats and is a perfect introduction to the voice that you are about to fall in love with. This song will surely appeal to fans of the new folk movement as personified by Mumford And Sons and their ilk, but with a slightly more American feel. The indie roots break through on “Trusty Branch” though, and we are given a peek at the fact that Koch is obviously a bit younger and draws much more from contemporary songs than one might have originally thought. Breaking into the blues on “Being Broke,” Koch invokes some lighter Delta fare with harmonica wailing and slide guitar. It's all tasty and modern, once more drawing deeply from the wells of American music.

Koch's deep soul shines through in a most earnest fashion on “Shining On Me.” His lyrical brilliance calls out in a beautifully orchestrated prayer, “I thank God for this very day, the life I live is a gift to me, I don't intend to waste it, and when it's tough I'll face it/ I don't have much but I've got more than enough, a beautiful family and a woman I love, I am a fortunate man and I won't take it for granted...” The song is soft, yet powerful and filled with inspiration and light. It's the kind of song that everyone could use hearing once or twice a day, a song that pays tribute to the troubles of life, but overwhelms them with the light of love and living. Amazingly, at this point the album isn't even half done. The other songs on the album troll the fertile grounds of American music from the dark lyric and beautiful fingerpicking of “My Father's House” to the lighter, bouncier “Our Feature,” that may sound just a touch like the kind of song Jason Mraz might record. The jazzier blues of “Sweet Release” are filled with gritty organ sounds and cool, trashy drums and wickedly harsh vocals while the album is tied up very neatly with the Dylanesque barroom honky-tonk “Keepin' On.” It's a nice, lighter-hearted end to an album that covers an amazing amount of ground and does it well.

Whole Heart is an amazingly great piece of music from front to back and, should the general public catch wind of it, we might just have a new superstar on our hands. I might not have mentioned it, but these songs all draw deeply from the wells of true American music and tie that spirit nicely into a neat, modernly-produced package. Lee Koch's songs and voice will appeal to the younger crowd of music listener, but also to those older folks who truly appreciate the value of a well-written song. Beautiful music for a beautiful life.

-Embo Blake

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