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Woody Pines

Woody Pines – 2015 (Muddy Roots Records)

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

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CDs by Woody Pines

There's an instant burst of bright energy that captures you right from the very first playful acoustic strains of "Anything For Love," the first track from rising Americana folk troubadour Woody Pines' self-titled debut. And that whimsical charm doesn't let up for the duration of the 11 tracks as Pines takes listeners on a musical journey that explores the roots of jump blues and hillbilly boogie while infusing them with something new and contemporary.

If Pines' music has that "lived in" vibe about it. Inspired by the great legacy of classic American music and drawing from dusty old records ranging from jug band, hillbilly and country blues, Pines began his musical career as a professional busker. Travelling the country, including with Old Crow Medicine Show's Gill Landry in a jug band, and honing his craft, Pines road tested his songs and learned to draw from the old, combining them with his own modern spin for the perfect sound.

From the playful opening jam, Pines then segues the record into the vintage-flavored "Junco Partner," the overall track recalling some of Marty Stuart's jams while "Little Stella Blue" tones things down, a shuffling acoustic backdrop sweetly framing out the track dedicated to the artist's niece who battled a rare form of cancer. That sweetness gives way to rich, rootsy blues on "Make It To the Woods," the live recording feel capturing the tight energy and making it one of the top highlights as "This Train Rolls By" shines, the moody jam smooth and smoking.

"Nashville Boogie" simmers with plenty of simmering riffs, the plunking bass and tinkling keys the perfect foil for Pines' succinct vocals while "Walking Stick" is a jumping jive jam that would work with a retro swing band just as well as it does here.

Love steps to the stage alongside some emotive harmonica on "Over the Water" before the record plants its feet in the dark Mississippi mud on "Delta Bound," the swirling solo riffs captivating. "Black Rat Swing" is just that, a rousing acoustic-led swing jam that will get feet to moving while "Worth the Game" closes things out with a thoughtful lyric, sharing the truth that "To be our best is the greatest test."

That test, to be his best, is one that Woody Pines has truly risen to on this debut. Packed with vintage flavors yet tinged with a contemporary sentiment, Pines' record reads like a time traveler's playlist, offering up the best of the old and the new.