Oakley Hall Gypsum Strings

Their prolific work ethic may warrant drug testing as Oakley Hall’s second album in the first half of 2006 sure doesn’t play out like it’s the soggy leftovers from February’s Second Guessing. Instead, Gypsum Strings keeps truckin’ along in the sextet’s same fashion, pushing the boundaries of country, roots and folk outside of their familiar terrain and into their own little world where prog tangents and psychedelic mind-fucks are fair play. Persistently hailed as one of New York’s best live acts, you can certainly hear how that’s possible; the synergy of vocalists Rachel Cox and Pat Sullivan is a natural wonder, brewing up the carefree spirit of Fleetwood Mac on "If I Was in El Dorado” and a sluggish but sexy chorus of "Having Fun Again.” It’s Cox though who really takes the reins and steps up into the spotlight most often, with a gleaming voice reminiscent of ’70s free-loving folk rock chanteuses that is sadly missing from most of today’s voices. A Crazy Horse obsession may weigh down a good portion of the band’s "guitartistry,” but they really go to town pushing their electric riffs into other dimensions, best heard on the acid-burning riffage of "Confidence Man.” Even when they do abandon the axe as the central creative force they manage to match its influence, as the banjo prove on "Bury Your Burden” (featuring Yeah Yeah Yeah Brian Chase on the tabla). Whoever said Brooklyn couldn’t be the next Nashville needs to hear Gypsum Strings. (StoneyBoy)