It’s been four years since the last time this Minneapolis outfit graced us with us a record, but the wait has been more than worth it. Now down to the core trio brothers Benson and Alex Ramsey and co-founder David Huckfelt, the group has delivered a collection of songs about yearning for belonging, the need to be some place that feels like home and maybe someone to be there with. Filled with all the trappings of Americana, including acoustic guitars, vocal harmonies and some banjo here and there, the record is not trapped in Americana clichés.
Where the Pines excel is realizing their brand of folkie Americana leans toward the textural, not song. This isn't to say their 2016 album Above the Prairie lacks in songs. They're there, often sturdy even when they're open-ended, but the charm of Above the Prairie is that it sets a mood, one that's ideal for twilight or the early hours of evening just after the sun has set.
It would be hard to imagine an album more haunting and beguiling than this fifth opus by the Minnesota-based band who refer to themselves simply as The Pines. Co-produced by Bo Ramsey, the man frequently behind the boards for Greg Brown, Above the Prairie unfolds as a series of shimmering, seductive soundscapes that effectively convey the other-worldly imagery asserted in its title. Within this beguiling set of songs, a dream-like scenario with a nocturnal gaze unfolds; on songs such as “Aerial Ocean,” “There In Spirit,” “Sleepy Hollow,” and “Hanging From The Earth,” these elusive entries resonate with an unworldly allure capable of stopping listeners in their tracks.