Peter Lavender and The Limbo Souls have come up with another fine CD with Sugar. Their ability to use soul, funk and R&B as a base that they expand into wider musical expression is uncanny. While this music could easily find a home on any radio station that plays traditional R&B material, it is also easy to imagine it finding a home among pop and rock fans too. Lavender and his boys meld it all together with their strong musical personalities and that makes their music work.

Disco is back, and Peter Lavender's new album, Sugar, flavored with some sweet '60s and '70s retro soul and spiked with a little funk and R&B, is going to make sure you feel the groove. Standout track, Time Warp, isn't the first song with a title to try and defy the forces of nature, but owing to its wah wah guitar and incessant horn section, it's one best for some serious booty shaking.

Peter Lavender and The Limbo Souls are no strangers to the pages of Metronome. He and his fine band graced our cover on the strength of his 2012 album release, Middle Street and again in 2007 for his noteworthy CD Never Now. Now, the talented songcrafter returns again with his latest album, Sugar, featuring his excellent group, Carl Johnson on lead guitar, Arte Kenyon on bass, Steve Esposito on keyboards and Justin Beaulieu on drums, along with guests Andy Kaknes on congas, Bryan MacAulsan on trumpet and Jared Ambrose on tenor sax.

Lavender is a gifted lyricist and singer and Sugar expounds on his appreciable talents and arranging skills. In fact this is the most well orchestrated album created by Lavender to date. The arrangements are impressively constructed and executed finding Lavender and The Limbo Souls in top form. Many of the tracks may remind listeners of Todd Rundgren and his flair for the perfect melody. Radio friendly tracks include the R&B croon of "So Natural," the ethereal vibe of "Grounded," the pop masterpiece "All Because of You," the magnificently penned "She Is," and the funk filled vibe of "Time Warp." Outstanding!

Best Local Albums of 2012

Here’s where the best elements of American music meet — rock songs that mean something, indelible melodies and songwriting that sticks in your head and has you humming along a week later. For people who want their music pure and straight forward, it doesn’t get better than Lowell native Peter Lavender whose talents managed to catch the ear of Columbia Records producer Ralph Shuckett earlier in his career. His 2012 Middle Street album is chock full of songs too catchy and clever to be ignored, like ”Duck Lady and Nails,” a tune based on the true story of a former Lowell city building inspector accused of swindling an old woman for her house.

Peter Lavender and his band The Limbo Souls return with a superb album of ten originals on the Peter Lavender/Sir Bob Nash produced project, Middle Street. I can't help but see and hear similarities between Lavender and Elvis Costello. Heck, Peter even resembles him physically, but he also exhibits many of the inventive songwriting traits as well as vocal inflections that contribute to the parallels. On Middle Street, Lavender's songwriting and vocals are top-shelf. He's a master at creating catchy hooks and exploiting them for everything they're worth from track to track. Bolstered by the sterling electric lead guitar work of Carl Johnson, the whirring keyboards of Steve Esposito, and the tautly weaved rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Arte Kenyon and drummer Justin Beaulieu, Lavender delivers a pop-rock masterpiece in Middle Street that should be heard by everyone that appreciates great music. Best tracks: The bouncing "You'll Come Around," the introspective "Waiting for You," the clever quirkiness of "Leak in the Laundry Room," and the rock and roll jaunt of "The Duck Lady and Nails," and "Careful What You Wish For."

LOWELL — Midway through Peter Lavender’s set, the evening started to take shape. Channeling Elvis Costello, the local crooner reached a loud and quirky crescendo. Martinis were downed. Fans stormed the dance floor. A well inked couple made out in the corner. Through the windows of the snug blues club, the Eastern Canal seemed to shimmy and shake. On this Friday night, the city of Lowell was as alive as London and The Back Page felt like a swinging club along the River Thames.

Singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Peter Lavender is a talented guy who goes unnoticed more often than not. All you need to do is hear his music once and you'll be hooked. It's intelligent, catchy, original and, above all, danceable. If a Lavender tune can't get you out on the dance floor, then my friend, you have NO soul! On his new album, Never Now, Peter Lavender handles 90% of the instrumentation and 100% of the vocals (and there's plenty of vocal bouncing going on). Layer upon lush layer of instrumentation and vocals thicken this tasty gumbo to perfection. Engineer/musician Bob Nash of Wonka Sound not only mans the mixing board for Never Now but also contributes stalwart drumming and sterling guitar tracks to the proceedings. Do yourself a favor, if you've never heard of Peter Lavender, seek him out. He'll make a believer out of you.

You have a winner on your hands Peter. I listened to the CD 3x and all of the songs are great, none of them sound like 'fillers' and all of them are catchy. *****

From the opening Counting Crow-ish stylings of "When the Truths What You Need", to the final emo pop notes of "Out of Our Hands", Peter Lavender's new album, Never Now, takes the listener on a musical ride down every road of Lavender's art, ability and influence. The arrangements and progressions on many of the tracks may sound upbeat but it's the passionate blue eyed soul of Lavender's vocals and beautiful truth of the lyrics that hold our attention as we listen just a little bit closer the next time. Those that came before him can clearly be heard on every track, from bands like Bad Finger and the Eagles to the aforementioned Adam Duritz of Counting Crows. But regardless of the obvious, Never Now is certainly an original piece of work. And something worth listening to!

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Peter Lavender displays a janglin' Americana feel to the songs on his new album Back to Normal. The opening track "Some Day Soon" is an excellent tune and deserves airplay on FNX, AAF and college stations throughout the region. "Baited", featuring double lead vocals, is also a fine number that highlights Lavender's superb vocal tracking that's reminiscent of Neil Young's extraordinary early work. The Eagles inspired "Get Outta Dodge" shows off Lavender's great guitar picking as well as his talents for composition and arranging. "Johnny's Wedding Day" is as American as apple pie and Chevrolets as Lavender recalls the events of the day with remarkable candor and clarity. Lavender plays all the instruments on this outstanding album with the exception of drummer David Frisiello adding drums to "Some Day Soon" and Bill Colangeli playing keyboards on "Baited". You may have never heard of Peter Lavender on the local music scene but with an album filled with music this strong, it won't be long before Lavender becomes a well known figure on the scene. Good stuff!

An amazing mix of musical diversity...Lavender's musical architecture is as pointed as his lyrical content.