Thunder and Rain are a four piece from Golden, Colorado who describe their music as an exploration of rock and country music using bluegrass level acoustic musicianship. There are songs here, particularly those that highlight the mandolin of Pete Weber and the lap steel of Chris Herbst, where the music does indeed have a hint of bluegrass running through it but the overall feel of the album is more akin to country pop.
Start Believing is the group’s second full length album and it fairly crackles with up-tempo songs littered with catchy and infectious choruses. Lead vocalist and guitarist Erin Peet-Lukes, who co-wrote the majority of songs on the album with former band member RP Oates, is a fine vocalist and it is on the more mid-tempo or slower songs such as I Won’t Try For You, LA on which she really shines and, high praise indeed, brings the sound of Natalie Maines and The Dixie Chicks to mind on occasions.
The highlight of the album is The Reckoning, another of those mid-tempo numbers that allow the subtle qualities of the musicianship to really shine, layers of beautiful fiddle, mandolin and lap steel weaving seamlessly through the song in support of lovely vocals. The closing track, Breaks My Bones, is another beauty with a gorgeous banjo intro that develops into the, err, bone upon which the flesh of this cracking track is built.
With a couple of exceptions, the bulk of the album is high tempo, bouncy, foot tapping country pop that features some high quality playing from all involved. On an album of 13 songs and 52 minutes it is perhaps inevitable that there are some tracks that fail to stand out but there is a lovely, warm and genuine feel to this album that will brighten many a music lover’s day. Is it Americana? Probably not, but there is undoubtedly a market for this brand of bluegrass infused country and what Thunder and Rain do, they do very well.