Po' Girl

Home to You

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AllMusic Review by

By their third release it had already been noted numerous times that beautiful harmonies were a strong point for alternative folksters Po' Girl and that they could entrance with music that wasn't afraid to straddle genres while remaining organically pure. With their third release. Canada's acoustic wonders have conquered the full-length, conceptual album, something that didn't seem important before when experiencing the group song by song was the thing. Home to You is a thematically sound effort focusing on what "home" means in a day and age where jobs, school, relationships, and a million other things send people miles and miles away from where they were born. Some songs are direct, some are so metaphorical that they seem to have strayed from the "home" theme until more closely inspected, but whatever direction they come from, they succeed. While the band still relies quite a bit on "feel" -- mixing coffee shop, front porch, and old-timey nostalgia music into their own unique blend -- their ability to write poignant lyrics has become just as strong. Allison Russell's "To the Angry Evangelist" is the ideal example of this growth as the singer paints religion as a suppressing force and rallies against the earthbound struggle/joyful afterlife dichotomy, declaring she wants her joy in this life. It's also the song where Po' Girl feel most like a group as the four musicians simmer in slow motion beneath the venomous words before exiting in a frantic cacophony that used to be exclusive territory for electric rock bands. The rest of the album finds the group sounding more like a songwriter's circle than they ever have with everyone getting their turn on the mic and using an abundance of "I"'s when they get there. "I" dominates the album, the "you"'s are mostly betrayers and loves lost, and it takes 12 tracks to get to the word "we," although the "we" in "Texas" is in the past tense, with "You were thinking of her/I was thinking of him"; it was doomed from the beginning. You can read up on their history and find that it's no big surprise these four vagabonds have an iffy relationship with home, but they seem to admire the traditional elements of the concept and often pine for more of a connection to it. How well the listener can relate to this bittersweet relationship will decide how deep the album sinks in, but there's no denying Home to You is a layered, insightful, and achingly poignant triumph that still works even if you just want to hear the pretty music.

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