After dark country trio Lost Dog Street Band released its 2022 album Glory, bandleader Benjamin Tod decided it was time to retire the project. Tod, alongside his wife Ashley Mae (fiddle), had been working together as a band since 2011. “I came to terms with letting go of Lost Dog completely, which is how I evaluate a lot of things in general,” explains Tod. “Oftentimes when I'm trying to make a really hard decision, I go ahead and go through the process of mourning its death and accepting that I am going to lose it.” But just a month after recording a solo project in January of 2023, Tod felt an urge to revisit the project one more time.
“I thought I was done with Lost Dog, but after recording my solo album, I looked over all the songs that I had ready for a new record. These were songs for my band. I had to admit to myself that I wasn't done with Lost Dog.” That energy is infectious throughout the album, beginning with opener “Brighter Shade.” Guitar melodies interlock with Ashley Mae’s fiddle line, providing plenty of room for a staggering mandolin part and shuffling drums. “Each day I love you more,” Tod croons, singing to his wife. “I could leave but some part of me would stay,” he adds, before concluding, “And only I can love you like I do, and you dare to trade it all for a brighter shade of blue.”
Though there was heartbreak at the prospect of the project coming to an end, its resurrection has meant all the more in this new context. “I definitely felt a good amount of grief and sadness that it was going to come to a close. I resisted, but then I accepted that it was going to come to a close,” explains Ashley Mae. “Seeing it reinvigorated in a completely different spirit and light is very exciting.”
That new direction began in the recording process, when Tod decided to swap out their traditional recording style of overdubbing parts in favor of recording everything live. It was an experience he was introduced to during his solo album, and found the process so successful that it, in part, led to his decision to revive Lost Dog. “We were able to finish the entire album in five days, and it has a remarkable energy to it,” Tod explains. Take the title track, which closes the album. Mournful fiddle and strummed mandolin chords provide an idyllic backdrop for Tod, who sings with an unbridled passion. “Lord, I have survived,” he reflects.
“Benjamin and I, both individually and together, have been through some professionally grinding and demoralizing personal times over the past five years,” Ashley Mae explains. “To take a step back from that over the past year and realize, ‘Wow, we held it down and withstood that, and we survived that,’ was a really good, bright, shining moment. It was the high point during a demoralizing time.” As such, Survived is a saving grace, a phoenix rising from the ashes. “This record means everything,” adds Tod. “It just feels like salvation.”