The Western States Bye and Bye

Winnipeg quintet the Western States tip their hats to country music traditions on their sophomore release, a nicely crafted collection of songs with a warm, classic sound. The influence of Americana legends like Gram Parsons and Neil Young are unmistakable, although Sean Buchanan's compositions still manage to sound fresh and contemporary. While most of the album feels like a nap in a dusty sunbeam, the States offer a few tempo changes near the start of the disc. After leisurely, pedal steel-kissed opener "Time to Lose" the band pick up the pace a little with the frisky piano line and female harmonies of "Fictional Divide." The piano takes a honky-tonk turn on "Backslider's Wine Pt. 2," and a few blasts of trumpet add a little zing. But the gentle interplay of acoustic and pedal steel guitars with fiddle, organ and piano through the rest of the album is well suited to long, lazy afternoons spent in a well-worn armchair. (Dollartone)