Wayne Bledsoe: The Lonetones deserve plenty of company on their musical wanderings

Paul Efird/News Sentinel
The Lonetones shine bright on the album "Modern Victims."

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Paul Efird/News Sentinel The Lonetones shine bright on the album "Modern Victims."

"Modern Victims," The Lonetones (Little Thing)

What do you call The Lonetones?

They're a group that has lost none of the acoustic charm of their initial release, but, like the Byrds or Wilco before them, they're on an ever-expanding musical journey that is beautiful to hear evolve.

The group's new album, "Modern Victims," is awash with electric guitar, cello, keyboards and various other instruments.

Married couple Steph Gunnoe and Sean McCollough are lead singer-songwriters of the group. Their styles are distinctively different. Gunnoe's lyrics are as cryptic as McCollough's are direct.

In previous albums, it was Gunnoe, with her sweet vocals and delicate melodies, who created the songs that stuck in your head most. However, this time out, it is McCollough with more numbers that just won't let you go. His "This Is Who We Are" feels like an anthem for the working-class left. "Stirrin' Up the Dust" is a powerful indictment of mountain-top removal mining. And "Top Hat" is a sweet acknowledgment of the impact of the late former Lonetones member Phil Pollard (augmented by a vintage Pollard vibraphone performance).

It's Gunnoe's songs (including the gorgeous "Loosely Based" and "Unprepared") that benefit most by the smart cello lines from new member Cecilia Miller, which blend well with drummer Steve Corrigan and bassist Maria Williams.

The title cut (written by Gunnoe, sung by McCollough, with guest rap by Black Atticus) is one of the most magical the group has ever created.

It's another step in a trip that makes a listener feel lucky to be part of.

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