Harvest Ministers

Little Dark Mansion

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With its lamenting vocals, near-invisible guitars, and crawling violins and harmonicas, it wouldn't be out of line to play through Little Dark Mansion and immediately picture the shy, pencil-drawn world of Americana. The Harvest Ministers, essentially a front for Will Merriman's traditional insecurities, are a folk band, evidenced by the derailed emotion and the small-town imagery of the genre, but told from a troubled Irish country music perspective. What works is that there's a pop undercurrent to the material rather than the expected twice-bitten edge of blues; Geradette Bailey appears in "I Gotta Lie Down" and "Don't You Ever," and her added harmonies give the music color and shape, a soft structuralist touch that the album sometimes lacks.

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