The Pine Hearts “Back To Sustain” (Independent, 2020)

The Pine Hearts sound just like you would expect a band who hail from the foothills of Washington State’s Cascade Mountains to sound like. A three-piece string band, they are as refreshing as a mountain stream as guitar, mandolin, and double bass gently nudge their songs along inhabiting a relaxed and freewheeling take on American folk music. They have some great songs of their own on display here but listen to their take on that old chestnut, ‘Stealin’’ for an idea of how they inject vitality into these timeworn sounds.

Back To Sustain’ is their fourth album and it finds the trio revisiting songs from their previous releases alongside some covers. Here they’ve convened in an old wooden community hall to record the songs live, gathered around an old style diaphragm microphone. The songs sounding a mite zestier than the original versions with simpler arrangements as on the title song (which featured on their last album) which loses the pedal steel and backing vocals. Likewise, ‘Living With Depression’ is more direct and more vibrant.

The live set up allows the band to show off their playing skills with the interplay on ‘Standing In The Corners’ particularly impressive while the knockabout ‘The Heartache Or The Whiskey?’ sounds as if the band were playing in your sitting room and having great fun doing so. Throwing in a cover of a Tom Petty Mudcrutch song, ‘Orphan Of The Storm’, transformed here into a muscular string band number, the trio marry contemporary pop and traditional sounds with aplomb and that just about sums up the album. Good time old time sounds which are bang up to date.

A great selection of laid back back porch folkiness
7/10

Author: Paul Kerr

Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.

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