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I’m a sucker for a live version of a song, and often, I end up preferring the live rendition to the original. While Larry Fleet’s spiritual ballad, ‘Where I Find God’, will always be a classic, hearing it live on his latest Live Sessions Vol 1 project frames it in an entirely new light.
The subtle, angelic choir accompaniment builds throughout the track, and the sparser live arrangement shifts the focus more firmly onto Fleet’s vocals. In my view, Fleet boasts one of the most irresistible voices in contemporary Country. Listening to his deep, husky croon is the sonic equivalent of taking a warming sip of Tennessee Fire.
Faith is the hook upon which all the other features of this project are hung, with Fleet recruiting Christian powerhouse Zach Williams for ‘This Too Shall Pass’ and ‘Midnight Rider’. This is a dream pairing, with both possessing vocals that flit mercurially between power and intimacy - perfectly mirroring two complimentary pillars of faith.
‘Highway Fleet’ revolves around a playful, bluegrass riff and a light, tinkling piano that melds seamlessly together with Fleet’s driving vocals. ‘Try Texas’ is a more laid-back affair, but one that treads closer to the footsteps of ‘Where I Find God’. ‘Try Texas’ delivers another message of holding onto hope when despair seems the only option. Nashville just reminds him of lost love, so Fleet simply shrugs his shoulders and muses, “Maybe I’ll try Texas”.
‘Having a Girl’ is another highlight, and epitomizes Fleet’s ability to draw the spotlight in and onto one specific detail or moment, before then building this out into a moving, bigger-picture anthem. The song finds Fleet leaning into his workin’ man, average Joe persona as he outlines how not much has ever been able to faze him - that is, until his wife ‘rocks his world’ by telling him he’s having a baby girl.
It’s a timeless, down-home honesty that never feels forced for the sake of radio play or fan appeasement. With Fleet, it really feels as though what you see is what you get, and the raw feel of these live renditions accentuates the finer sketchings of this image. This selection of tracks not only captures the magic of live music, it also beautifully imparts a sense of optimism and an overwhelming sense of assurance in being exactly who you are. Fleet sounds comfortable in himself, and he resists the temptation to try and fit into any kind of prepackaged box or traffic-jammed lane. ‘Where I Find God’ rightly continues to pique the most interest, but even so, every track on Live Sessions Vol 1 serves as another reason to eagerly anticipate Larry Fleet’s next studio album.
Live Sessions Vol.1 is out now on all platforms.
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