Pinetop Seven The Night's Bloom

Their name suggests a bank robbing gang or posse of hillbilly moonshiners, but Pinetop Seven are primarily the brainchild of Chicago singer-songwriter Darren Richard. Since they formed in 1996, some 23 different musicians have moved in and out of the fluid collective (15 contributed to this), while their four earlier albums have been warmly received critically. The Night’s Bloom is a gorgeously lush work that fuses such elements as chamber music, orchestrated film scores, and folk and roots stylings. The rich smorgasbord of instrumentation served up includes marimbas, vibraphones, accordions, pump organs, violins, cellos, horns, toy pianos, found percussion and more. Richard’s pleasingly warm and slightly haunting vocals are always to the fore, however, so the sound never seems cluttered, while the subtle strengths of his melodies reveal themselves with the repeated listening you’ll enjoy giving this. Evocative instrumentals nestle comfortably alongside poetically introspective songs on this elegant and elegiac work. A perfect soundtrack for watching white flakes fall from your window. (Empyrean)