Souled American


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Calling one track "Marleyphine Hank" in honor of the kings of reggae and country is as obvious as Souled American needs to be about its seamless efforts. The group's second album generally follows in the vein of its first, continuing the blend of musical influences to fully create a distinct band sound. Chris Grigoroff's singing is a touch higher-pitched at points, but still strong and soaring, while as a unit, the foursome blend shimmering guitar work, inventive rhythms, and subtle production touches to create another strong set of songs. More than a few cuts have a danker, odder feeling to them, showcasing Souled American's unheralded influence on many bands that would follow later interested in blending tradition and newer approaches. "Wind to Dry" incorporates the two well, Grigoroff's high and lonesome vocal mostly accompanied only by accordion and Joe Adducci's low, twanging bass. When guitar finally does appear, it has the effect of making everything sound even more strangely distanced and beautiful all at once. When the band want to wander even farther afield, as on "Drop in the Basket," a core acoustic line surrounded by choppy guitar and bass parts and Grigoroff's constantly overlapping singing, the results can be even more stunning. In an interesting touch of a reverse sequel, "True Swamp" appears here after its counterpart cropped up on Fe. While the two songs don't have a specific connection other than being instrumentals, both emphasize the complex, sharp power of the band. "Over the Hill" is one of the band's most straightforward numbers, its core acoustic strum and Grigoroff's singing still touched with an odd bit of dissonance here or there. Two covers pop up here, John Prine's "The Torch Singer," done in appropriately late-night, last drink of the evening style, and John Fahey's "Cupa Cowfee," with a great, shuffling rhythm accompanying the fine performance.

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