May 7, 2012, 11:04 am
Get to know "The Pines". KINK Community member Cynthia Orlando writes The Pines' 4th CD quietly rocks and resonates from off the beaten path.
If you're in the mood for new music, mellower than hard rock but bold and original enough to hold your attention, and especially, something off the beaten path of the mainstream, The Pines' "Dark So Gold" might just be to your liking. This 7-member Indie band from Iowa and Minnesota craft quiet, understated compositions with a folk-rock feel that also contain a strong undertow of the blues.
For those not familiar with them, the core of The Pines are musicians / singer-songwriter's Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt. With a sound a bit like a blend of JJ Cale and Bob Dylan, both fairly whisper lead vocals on "Cry, Cry, Crow," their mysterious, brooding first track on the new release.
Like most of the selections on "Dark So Gold," the reflective "If By Morning" follows in a similar vein: tasteful, appealing acoustic guitar finger-picking that echo with reverberations. Lyrics are somehow both strong and delicate, conjuring up images of brown rolling hills and barnyards, or the moon rising over farms and fields in a desolate landscape.
KINK listeners will surely appreciate the soft, searching and emotive "All the While"; it's somewhat reminiscent of musician Ray LaMontagne with its rolling momentum and romantic dreamscape theme. Keep this one handy for cuddling up to that someone-special.
Lyrical phrasing on "Rise Up and be Lonely" is stark and Dylan-esque: "Look now the sun hangs like a thief / over branches leaf to leaf / and I'm out walking under corporate criminal skies / Rise up in the morning / Rise up and be lonely." And its powerful but understated lead guitar style calls to mind Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame. Discerning ears will also gravitate towards some skillfully played slide guitar touches expertly placed between interwoven acoustic guitars on "Be There in Bells."
A bright and touching instrumental, "Grace Hill," follows. Light and spritely- mostly banjo with windswept touches of keyboards and drums - you can almost hear the sound of crickets in the background. It's great Americana folk with a little magic thrown in.
The momentum and feeling of redemption imparted by "Chimes" (with it's lovely keyboards, it's probably the CD's most uplifting track) is also noteworthy. While we probably won't hear it performed on "American Idol," let's vote it "most-likely-to-be-played" on public radio.
Churning out 4 CD's since 2004, all of The Pines' last 3 albums were released on American independent record label Red House Records. They recently finished touring with American singer-songwriter Mason Jennings, opening for him and collaborating with his band during the second half of his shows as they so capably did at Portland's Wonder Ballroom last year. In January, Jennings endorsed The Pines' newest work, saying simply, "easily my favorite record of the year."
Understandably, while most bands don't usually relish being compared to other artists, musicians who call to mind the likes of Bob Dylan, JJ Cale or Mark Knopfler are bound to be pretty gifted in their own right; it's clear The Pines follow their own instincts in a niche truly all their own.
You can get a thorough introduction to their music online, at: www.thepinesmusic.com/store/index.html.
From "Dark So
Gold," check out "Grace Hill" "All the While," or
"Chimes." Also, make time to give a listen to both "Heart &
Bones" and "Pray Tell" from their last release, "Tremelo."
Some kinds of music, like many forms of art or a good wine, are best appreciated by savoring slowly and contemplatively. Such is the case with music by this band. Here's to hoping they'll make Portland or Eugene a whistle stop on their next tour.