The local Redwoods music collective merges the creative energy of the Elephant Six movement with the hired-gun musicianship of the Wrecking Crew. All the Redwoods projects, however, are anchored by the words of percussionist/lyrical scribe Alfred Howard. In a sense, he gets to be the Robert Hunter to five different Grateful Deads.
...by the Midnight Pine
The latest offering to emerge from the woods is the Midnight Pine’s new self-titled disc. Shelbi Bennett’s powerful voice is the anchor of this project, and her soaring vocals on “Mockingbird” are proof that she is the real deal. The album basks in the band’s vibe of dark Americana, only this time the arrangements seem to be more fleshed-out. Horns pop up here and there, and there seems to be an actual rhythm section. As a result, the album sounds more professional. Perhaps that’s why it’s called Midnight Pine? It is the actualization of how the project was meant to sound all along.
“Vice” is the upbeat single, but I think the true gem on this album is “Mother of Wolves,” which utilizes a sparse arrangement, a soaring guitar solo, empty space, and a slow-build that shines as Bennett wails, “She’s the mother of wolves/ And she taught them to run/ To the edge of the Earth/ Giving chase to the sun.” It’s also proof that less is often more in the confines of a song, that a lean and mean methodology can work wonders for a project like the Midnight Pine. I hope that as this band continues to grow, the songs don’t get too busy. This disc has a healthy balance, but I hope they don’t beef-up too much.
The Midnight Pine will play a record-release show at the Moniker Warehouse (705 16th Street, downtown) tonight, Friday, September 9. Doors at 8 p.m., show starts at 9.
- Artist: The Midnight Pine
- Album: Midnight Pine
- Label: Redwoods
- Songs: (1) Broken Wing (2) Vice (3) Barricade (4) Mockingbird (5) Thunder and Lightning (6) Fortress (7) Mother of Wolves (8) Hope It Matters (9) Fast Fever (10) Bends and Bows