Bluegrass and Appalachian folk are executed in soulful old-timey fashion by Jim & Jennie and the Pinetops, a Pennsylvania-based sextet. The Pinetops write all the material here, unusual for such an archival sounding group, and recorded this 14-song set in an appealing no-frills style.
Jim Krewson (vocals, guitar, drums) and Jennie Benford (vocals, mandolin, guitar) are the group's focal point. However, the Pinetops creatively augment Eric Levenson's bass-work and Emma O'Donnell's fiddle by switching around versatile pickers Bradford Hutchison (three-finger banjo, guitar, bass) and Travis Stuart (clawhammer banjo, guitar, bass). As a result, they forge a remarkable variety of instrumental tones and emotions. Together, Benford and Krewson achieve a unique warts-and-all harmony that rings with Americana authenticity ("Elmore Mountain Road," "The Miller And The Hound"). Solo, Benford's aching folk vibrato shines on songs of sorrow ("Morning Dove") and hopeless love ("Pretty Valley," "The Light Of Day"). Although Krewson writes the more entertaining lyrics ("One More In the Cabin," "The Road To Paradise"), his solo vocals occasionally play out like a cartoon hillbilly's.
Yet, whether doing Flatt & Scruggs style overdrive bluegrass ("Driving Rain," "Firetower") or barn-raisin' instrumentals ("Cider Press"), the Pinetops generate palpable drive and excitement. (Overcoat)