Album Review: Lou Sherry — ‘More Now Than Then’

Sometimes in life, anticipation can veer towards obsession. It was after the first time Lou Sherry played Gabe’s that I learned this lesson — as soon as the show ended, I craved a full album. The wait seemed inconceivable, but then September rolled around and, like magic, More Now Than Then came out! Lord, was it worth it!

Lou Sherry is the creation of Denny Richards, who has been kicking around the Iowa City music scene for quite some time in groups such as Def-Kittie BlinDogg and the ever-shifting music of ZUUL. Here, Richards has gathered an impressive collection of talent. Drummer Josh Seligman and bassist Jon Lewis provide the rhythm section while Dan Miller of MAAAZE compliments Denny Richards’ piano with guitar.

“Friendly Advisors,” after a nice little false start, kicks the album off. A jaunty piano bounces around Richards’ wavy Bacharach-esque voice as he goes through all the life advice that, in tone alone, he feels is fake, “…everything eventually, seems to bring me down.” For a song about accepting the letdowns of life, it sure does lift one’s spirits.

The next song, “Dice,” has a darker feel. By the end, the band seems to disappear, leaving only Richards and drummer Seligman as their playing gets more sparse, until we are left with the sound of a creaking door opening and closing.

In “DWC” Richards sings in a voice so low it comes across as a guttural whisper, reminiscent of Bill Callahan’s Smog output in its delivery. “Hoping for a new beginning,” Richards sings right as the song ends.

“Adam,” which might be my favorite song on the album (mood dependent), comes across as a rumination of the narrator waiting to take his first train ride to meet with someone he hasn’t seen for a long time. There’s a frailness to the song that almost feels like whimsy and innocence evoked from a common traveling experience. Richards approaches the song and lyrics with an honesty that borders on childlike wonder, though the confidence in his own feelings shows a sense of peace with one’s own emotions, which is about as adult as it gets.

The album ends on the title track, harkening back to the aesthetics of “Friendly Advisors,” creating a loop upon itself sonically and conceptually.

More Now Than Then is a thoroughly crafted album full of peppy tempos and in-joke lyrics. Every riff, every sonic trick is placed exactly where it should be, creating a composition around themes of heartbreak, disillusion and humor. These are lounge songs for acid casualties and freaks. Listening to the album is akin to sitting in the bar of the Love Boat if the Love Boat was a decaying, pilot-less steamboat meandering down the Mississippi. No one seems to notice, nor care whether it runs aground, not when the entertainment is this good.

This article was originally published in Little Village’s November 2023 issue.