Jake Swamp and the Pine “Simpson & Banks”

Independent, 2022

Gloriously atmospheric vocals carry a set of passionate, emotive and classy songs.

Boston-based Drew Zieff has an ambitious attitude to his music – as Jake Swamp and the Pine he alone wants to blend the ruckus and energy of a full band balanced with being able to create an intimate singer-songwriter space and the ten tracks here impressively answers this goal. His intention in creating this group is captured by a highly personal feeling he wants his music to achieve  – “At the end of a long day traversing the White Mountains, when the sun has laid down behind the horizon and the shush of the forest descends, there’s a certain feeling that builds around the campfire”. He’s “One Dude. One Beard. 6 Strings”. Zieff has also worked with Don Mitchell of Darlingside.

The album kicks off with lead track ‘Drive, Drive, Drive’, which starts with a lovely acoustic solo feel but gradually builds to the band sound combined with a lovely hook-laden tune. A great start. Things continue in a winning way with ‘Cigarettes and Coffee’ with more gloriously atmospheric vocals from Zieff and a lovely pounding bass.

There’s a strong Avett Brothers feel to Zieff’s passionate, emotive and classy songs and things continue in impressive fashion with ‘Empty Stomachs and Bloodshot Eyes’ with a driving drum beat augmenting the tune and some choice ‘whoah oh’s’ adding to the strong effect of the song. Another highlight is ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of Sundays’, again starting with acoustic guitar and percussion, before building with more guitars and yet another wonderfully memorable tune.

The album doesn’t outstay it’s welcome, clocking in at the 30-minute mark – and although it’s been touted as a solo project – here Zieff’s joined by Don Mitchell (lead guitar, harmonies, banjo, lap steel); Corinna Smith (violin); Francis Hickey (bass); Auyon Mukharji (mandolin); Jonathon Ulman (drums) and Josh Gold on production duties.

This is a really strong debut and does exactly what it should – leaving you wanting more.


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