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Pinmonkey

Pinmonkey – 2002 (BNA)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Pinmonkey

Nashville-based quartet Pinmonkey (the name comes from Homer Simpson's fantasy bowling alley job) hearkens back to a time when the blending of pop and country didn't reek of calculated chart success. Like Foster & Lloyd before them, Pinmonkey has a talent for folding in the best elements of country (without the monolithic roots rock ethic), pop (without the manipulatively slick bombast) and bluegrass (without the slavish traditionalism).

The result is Pinmonkey's eponymous sophomore album and major label debut, a delightful and uneffected amalgam of all the music the band clearly loves and respects. Although the new album offers two originals, guitarist/vocalist Michael Reynolds's "Jar of Clay" and "The Longest Road," Pinmonkey's ability to absorb and interpret any song or style and make it their own is the quality that distinguishes them.

The proof of that is most apparent on the band's sizzling downhome takes on Mavis Staple's bluesy "Stay With Us," Cyndi Lauper's anthemic "I Drove All Night," and their captivating hayride spin on Sugar Ray's massive hip hop hit "Fly." Guests like Ricky Skaggs and Dolly Parton offer a pinch of name credibility, but with a rollicking attitude and broad sonic appeal, Pinmonkey doesn't require a great deal of help to spread the good word.