Published Feb 17, 2015When artists step away from more traditional string band music toward the more mainstream, folk-pop genre, it's always interesting to see what, and who, they bring along with them. Best known for her singing and clogging with Uncle Earl, Kristin Andreassen's voice and songwriting style lends itself well to this collection of non-string band music. Most of the songs are soft, dreamy pieces, with Andreassen's velvety vocal delivery floating over the rest of the music. Warm acoustic guitar tones are accompanied variously by piano, electric guitar, drums, body percussion, harmonica and woodwinds, each adding specific colour to the album's soft mood.
The one exception to the mellow — and my favourite track — is "Lookout," a perfectly crafted uptempo pop song with a lyrical nod to "Paul Revere's Ride." Clever, well-penned lyrics are a highlight throughout the album, exploring themes that conjure Andreassen's old-time music roots: crawdad fishing, fruit picking, clearing and ploughing land. Sonically, however, there is nothing rural going on here. The vocal sound on "The New Ground," in particular, is enormous and almost otherworldly.
On this second solo album, Andreassen has brought along a cast of progressive string band heavyweights, like Aoife O'Donovan and Rushad Eggleston (Crooked Still), Chris Eldridge and Paul Kowert (Punch Brothers), and Stephanie Coleman (Uncle Earl). Their contributions don't take this folk-pop album back in that direction, though, leaving plenty of room for Andreassen's next record to find some middle ground between her (at least) two different musical worlds. (Yellowcar Music)