3 Pairs of Boots - Long Rider
Guitarist and songwriter Andrew Stern and singer Laura Arias are 3 Pairs of Boots and Long Rider is the second album from the married couple. Arias wastes no time in demonstrating her talent for pouring emotion into song as the album opens with "Quittin' Time" where she portrays a woman who remains hopeful despite the fact that all signs point to the end of a love relationship. The song has a similar feel to many cuts heard on early Emmylou Harris albums, while "Angels on the Trail" initially finds Arias in a daintier mood singing to delicate notes from Stern's guitar; eventually the song kicks into full band mode to rock out. "Devil Road," with down home lyrics, moves to an old school country bounce while "I Am the Map" is a subdued folk-informed cut where Arias again recalls Emmylou. "Low" is Southern rock, alternately boisterous and sweet, and "Roller Coaster," another cut about the impending end of a relationship, is a fitting close to this effort where the duo chronicle the ups and downs of love.
Rodney Rice - Same Shirt, Different Day
Playing off a well-known saying that has one less letter in it, Rice has a bit of punny fun with the title of his new album. While not naming names, opening cut "Ain't Got a Dollar" takes a shot at the Trump administration while bemoaning the economic woes of the blue collar working man, all set to a somewhat swampy Southern rock-ish melody. With sidemen playing mandolin, Dobro and fiddle, "Free at Last" is bluegrass-informed country and another song about having nothing left but the pills that kill the pain. Rice is an avowed fan of John Prine and you can hear that in several songs here, in particular "Pillage and Pilgrim" which has lyrics that Prine would have loved, also delivered in Prine's understated manner. "Rivers Run Backwards" is a declaration of love that'll last "Until the rivers all run backwards and the oceans go dry" and a great example of how Rice sings in a matter-of-fact way that makes his words very relatable. Rice wrote all twelve songs presented here.
The Burnt Pines - The Burnt Pines
This is the debut album from the Burnt Pines but listeners may hear sounds they find familiar here; opening cut "Diamonds" is a folk-tinged pop song that sounds like an "unplugged" Gin Blossoms tune, and "Heavy and Young" nods to Simon & Garfunkel. With members living in Boston and across the pond in Portugal, the six-piece outfit certainly has a world of influences, and the subdued "Song for Rose" includes hues of the Continent (singer Kris Skovmand was born in Denmark and shares a home with keys man Miguel Sa Pessoa in Lisbon.) "Only in the Soul" is perhaps the most beautiful of songs presented here; understated and quiet, the cut reflects the fragility of love. "Oh Me, Oh My" is a light rocker but most of this first taste of the Burnt Pines provides perfect company for listeners in a reflective mood, tempering the aching with plenty of honesty.
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