The sophomore album from Northampton, MA group Lo Fine has taken six years to complete, but this time around there is a stable band effort to the recording. On the previous release, 2001's Nine, Lo Fine was essentially the songwriter Kevin O'Rourke. The Boston Globe has described this group as being "committed to the notion that there's a place for popular music that values the sublime and restrained over the raw and showy." Not For Us Two demonstrates just that statement. It is a down tempo LP that possesses with it an alternative country sound in its ten melodies.
Jangly and slow throughout, Not For Us Two is akin to Son Volt, Bonnie Prince Billy and at times, the later period Red House Painters, but has more of a direct country sound to it. There are pedal steel guitars featured on many of the tracks such as "New Excuses" and "Cemetery Road." The lyrics are direct and honest, O'Rourke shirking any kind of obscurity in the straightforward delivery of the words. "Sight Behind Lids" opens with the lyrics "I'm totally amused / by your wonderment / and fabricating you / as if you're heaven sent." The song's simplicity demonstrates the general approach to the writing and goes on with the lines "I guess I'm less a model than a comfort / I'm here doing you no direct good / Reaching inside is not limited by arms length or height." If there is a theme to Not For Us Two, it is one of aching while being separated, whether by a breakup or by distance, from a loved one.
It is a gentle and melancholy album, their second full-length release. Most of the songs move along at a similar doleful pace and the soft spoken vocals are almost whispered by O'Rourke. This album has KEXP written all over it by the songwriting and the production. It will comes as no surprise to hear these songs on the station in the coming months.