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Parsonsfield

Blooming Through the Dark – 2016 (Signature Sounds)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Parsonsfield

The second full-length effort from the Massachusetts-based Parsonsfield, named for the Maine city where they recorded their first album, is an eclectic mix of folk, bluegrass, rock and blues. The strongest influence is the modern indie folk sound of such acts as the Avett Brothers, The Lumineers or Mumford and Sons. The lack of specificity in the liner notes, which credits all compositions collectively to Parsonsfield and lists the band members by name only and not which instruments they played, is presumably intentional to emphasize an egalitarian approach by the group.

The rocking "Ties That Bind Us" and "Barbed Wire" are particularly reminiscent of the Avett Brothers, while the moody "Mental Remedy" and "Everyone Dies" recall The Lumineers. Smooth harmonies are present throughout, particularly in the folksy "Water Through the Mill" and "Don't Get Excited."

The title track, which deals with persevering through adversity ("Good things come slowly/Carrying a little pain in tow") and the bluesy "Across Your Mind" offering comfort in troubled times ("But I am not hard to find/If you're havin' hard times/Lay me down across your mind"), are among the stronger tunes. Another highlight is the opening Mumford and Sons-flavored "Stronger," which tracks the progression from enduring an abusive relationship ("But like your punching bag I kept hanging around") to finding contentment ("I only wish you could see/What I've become since you left me").

Produced by Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter), the strong vocals are nicely supported throughout by the stellar musicianship of members Max Shakun, Erik Hischmann, Harrison Goodale, Chris Freeman and Antonio Alcorn. With thoughtful compositions, pleasant vocals and solid performances, "Blooming Through the Black" is a compelling listen.