Pinmonkey

Pinmonkey

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AllMusic Review by

To call an artist "country" is to enter a hall of mirrors. By country, do you mean the Diane Warren-penned pap that has dominated mainstream country radio from the great credibility scare of the '90s (as Steve Earle terms it) through the new millennium? Or do you mean those progressive country/Americana/alt-country artists who ride waves of critical respect and receive their due in No Depression magazine? Or do you mean classic country or honky tonk? Or country-rock? So suffice it to say that Pinmonkey is a country band par excellence precisely because it embodies this kind of confusion. The group's sweet-as-mountain-water vocals and tight musicianship could hold a comfortable place in both No Depression circles and on country radio. "Every Time It Rains" and "Barbed Wire & Roses" are dosed with enough pop sensibilities to please mainstream Nashville, while the brooding, stirring gospel of "Jar of Clay" and the bruised, drop-dead gorgeous "Augusta" are, frankly, too darn good to survive that milieu. This is a strong country album with pop smarts, and (complicating the picture even more) it isn't too many DNA strands removed from the country-rock of the Flying Burrito Brothers -- Pinmonkey's edges are just a whole lot smoother than those of their ancient predecessors. Dolly Parton offers her nod of approval with a guest slot on "Falling out of Love With Me." The album also features a nearly unrecognizable and joyous take on alternative pop group Sugar Ray's "Fly."

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