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Twisted Pine

Twisted Pine – 2017 (Signature Sounds)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Twisted Pine

After gaining a following on the acoustic scene as a band with progressive bluegrass leanings and roots, Massachusetts-based Twisted Pine's self-titled release finds they've, well, progressed quite a bit. The 11 tracks find them a bit more toward the jazz and swing side of things. Kathleen Parks is a dynamic fiddler, who has developed her own stockpile of unexpected and rewarding licks, while mandolinist Dan Bui is likewise unafraid to stray outside the conventional lines. Backed by Rachel Sumner's guitar and Chris Sartori's bass, Twisted Pine is a band that, even by the no-holds-barred standards of the Boston acoustic music scene, is a tightly-knit band that likes to take chances and more often than not, gets away with it.

With Parks and Sumner as the principal songwriters for the band, the material may give the initial impression of stream-of-consciousness Millennial angst, but a closer listen to tunes like "Bound To Do It Right" (Parks) and "Lose My Love" (Sumner) reveals surprising depth. And while "21 And Rising" is a coming of age song that recounts their own more recent generational experience, it will resonate as well among those of us who are twice or even three times that age.

Perhaps the strongest element of the sound here, though, is simply that while Parks and Sumner are both quality lead vocalists on their own, it's their duet singing that grabs the most attention. The overarching impression is that this is a wonderfully talented quartet that simply enjoys making music with each other and isn't afraid to show it.