“Americana” as a genre has taken a backseat to pop country, so Frankie Lee’s return on “Stillwater” is a welcome respite. Lyrics that matter. Music that evokes feelings of mountains and rivers. Smooth and soothing songs like “In the Blue” (above) and easy toe-tappers like “Broken Arrow” and “Downtown Lights” (below).

“Life gets real sometimes,” he sings on “Blinds” (my favorite song on the album), and as gentle as this record is, it feels like real life. Life isn’t all grit and rage, and it’s not all bitter sadness. Sometimes, life is just sitting still and listening.

The album was recorded live in Lee’s childhood home in Minnesota, and it feels like it. It’s not perfect and crisp, but the band is well-rehearsed and at the top of their game. Exactly what you want to hear from “real” music and real life.

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