Double albums are a tricky proposition, done for one of two reasons: a long, often convoluted concept stretched beyond its logical capacity or an artist’s likely mistaken belief that s/he has too many good songs to fit onto one disk. Raucous Americanus, the latest LP from former Windbreakers singer/songwriter/guitarist Tim Lee and his 3, is an example of the latter, with one important difference: the band really does have a surfeit of excellent tunes. Incisive, witty and heartfelt, Lee has always been a fine songwriter (not to mention a superior guitarist), and in partnership with bassist/singer/spouse Susan Bauer Lee he’s even better. Along with drummer Matt Honkonen and some longtime buddies (including Mitch Easter), the pair tells stories and makes observations both cutting and wry about Southern life in the 21st century.
Of course, all the intelligent lyrics in the world don’t mean anything unless married to strong tuneage, and the band has plenty to spare. Touching on jangle (“Hit the Ground”), crunch (“Get There First”), country rock (“Broken Line Fever”), pop (“Sirens”), drive (“Kerosene/Matches”), folk rock (“Shipwreck”), anthemry (“Burning Down [with the House]”) and straight roots rock (“What I Have Not Got,” “Salty Tears,” “Dig It Up,” “Long Way to the Ground”), the TL3 channels its breadth of talent into 21 tracks of warm, melodic and vibrant rock & roll. By virtue of having more strong songs per pound than most bands can manage on one disk, Raucous Americanus may be the best album Lee has made in a long, already exceptional career.