It’s easy to try to force to your emotions on Steve Lambke‘s work. Whether it was his contributions to his other band or the earlier releases as Baby Eagle, his fractured view of the world was a perfect counterpoint to the energy and grit fans have expected from The Cons; an admittedly dark but necessary one.
With good reason though, happy is a descriptor rarely associated with Lambke’s mood.
And by no means is Dog Weather littered with sunshine, kittens, hugs and warmth, but for the first time you start to feel that Lambke might be smiling inside. His songs are still brittle like a heart that’s been tested too many times, but there is an undeniable playfulness (the picking in “Broken Bones” transforms the sludgy backbone and the synthy syncopation that lightens “Child of the Weather does the same”) and spirited rebellion that gives the record subtle glimpses of hope and clarity. The dark storm still hovers over the beach and you wonder if the rain seems will ever stop as Lambke bombards you with a poetic vision of the world he lives in, but when you squint and look out you swear you can see a break in the clouds. A single, barely visible crack in the grey and For the first time, you realize that instead of bleak, apocalyptic despair, Steve might simply accept that life is what it is and is here to be lived.
Dog Weather toes the line between folk and feedback, Pavement and Neil, as Lambke gladly puts toes in both pools. The chunkier riffs and distorted notes (“Haybale Song”) and even horns (“Thistle in Bloom”) balance desolate, Jon Swift drifter anthems like the beautiful “Dog Failure” and “Last Song of the Night” and really make Dog Weather a full record, not just sketches inspired by the same muse. Lambke may still feel alone but he’s singing for the people, and when he breaks into the recklessness of “Crooked Coin” or “Me vs. The Devil”, you realize Dog Weather is more liberating than you could have ever imagined.