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Oregon’s Lost Ox Explores Bluegrass and Folk Rock with New Album, Tale of the Fool [Album Release]

Who is The Fool, but a representative of each of our own feelings of confusion and bliss in this wild, jester’s world? A dive into the sounds of bluegrass and folk rock and a departure from Lost Ox’s previous funk and blues explorations, Tale of the Fool is Lost Ox’s  fourth studio album, recently released on May 3, 2024. With a definite nod to the 1960s folk rock revolution that redefined American music, Tale of the Fool represents the band’s finest singing and songwriting to date.

The songs, written by guitarist and singer Dylan DiSalvio, feature authentic folk rock instrumentation, with mandolin and banjo featured on several tracks backed up by the more classic setting of drums, electric bass, and electric guitar. “We wanted to do something different,” says DiSalvio, “and bringing in this more diverse set of instruments and players really opened up the palette.”

lost ox band frolicking in grass

Recorded in Portland, Oregon, in late 2022, most of these songs were written during the 2020-2021 global Covid-19 pandemic, and speak from a more emotional and vulnerable place than the band’s earlier works. A collective human awareness is a hallmark of the album, with the second track, “After the Flood”, “singin’ bout the fix we’re in”, for example, and the title track, “Tale of the Fool”, with a strong call to action for all who have “hands still fit to do”.

The album gets both personal, with the jazzy “King Tide”—a callback to DiSalvio’s teenage years in the Bay Area of California—and universal, with “Mother Mercy” which includes references to Greek mythology, the Old Testament, and more. “I’ve spent a lot of time focusing away from my own story,” says DiSalvio, “ but I felt it was time to really let my personal history speak through the music.”

All of this comes to a climax with the hippie blues rock anthem “Dewey Double Down”—a saga of a fictionalized musical superfan, whose life revolves around the art and drug culture that have made bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish persistent cultural icons. The acapella choral “Easier All the Time” ends the album on a sweet, sentimental, and powerful note with a meaningful optimistic message for those internally struggling. “Climb on down from that mountain in your mind,” the song beckons. “There’s a gentler way to that twisted knot unwind.” And, indeed, a deeper connection to each other and the world at large is waiting just on the other side of the mountain. Won’t you join us?

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