Kendl Winter & the Summer Gold

It Can Be Done!

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Arkansas-bred and Olympia, Washington-based banjo-strumming songwriter Kendl Winter has been carving out a homespun niche since late in the 2000s, beginning with self-released collections of home recordings. The optimistically titled and spirited It Can Be Done! marks Winter's third album with the legendary K Records, and it improves on the fidelity, focus, and songwriting of 2012's already great The Mechanics of Hovering Flight. Winter's bluegrass roots have always infused her indie songcraft with a dusty old-timey feel, from her death-rattle banjo dirges to the summery yodel that sometimes creeps into her vocals. It Can Be Done! finds Winter's music coming into its own, still deeply enamored with the spare banjo and rustic harmonies of bluegrass and Appalachian music, but with both lyrics and musical themes coming from a place more personal than traditional. Tracks like "How to Keep It Hawt" manage a strange synthesis of Winter's musical obsessions and her own perspectives, with an unlikely pairing of spare banjo and complex drumming minimally backing her lyrics about personal motivation. This minimal arrangement makes up much of the album and offers a nice contrast when tunes like "Hands Behind Your Back" pop out with bright trumpet, handclaps, and backing vocals coasting joyously along. The level of confidence and purpose has advanced a lot since previous albums as well. There's a sense of hopefulness and intent to her songs that wasn't there before, whether she's singing about greeting a summer day on "Dreaming of Babylon" or walking around Berlin trying to find a place to do her laundry on the bright and breezy "Centrifugal Forces." With each successive release, Kendl Winter improves vastly on what came before, making It Can Be Done! her best work in a line of exciting albums. As her statements become more personal and thoughtful, her albums move into more promising territory and look forward to even brighter future sounds. Winter's progress continues to reap increasingly enjoyable results, as well as her most dynamic and beautifully considered material so far.

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