March 28, 2012 10:53

Taking a Listen

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reviews of the moment

POSSUM JENKINS  — Carolinacana


The delicate undercurrent to Possum Jenkins’ fourth studio album Carolinacana advocates a sincere appreciation of ones’ roots. The title itself refers to a sound that the Boone quintet has championed ever since their formation eight years ago, itself denoting a commitment to keeping the Piedmont blues sound alive through a mountain hash of country, rock and boogie. While they tend to swing widely sonically, the group’s core sound is personified in opener “Copper Coin,” a well measured picking tune that’s another feather in the cap of producer Doug Williams (the Avett Brothers). Harmonica, acoustic and crackling electric guitars, and Dave Willis’s deliberate baritone careen up and down in the mix, never clouding out the other, signifying harmony that goes above and beyond the band’s three-part vocals. The album is relatively short of these bluesy pickers, the hallmark of Possum Jenkins on past records, however. The group presses the electric guitar early on opposite Brent Buckner’s amped mouth harp on the distinctly power-pop influenced “Been There Before.” But with 14 tracks to work with, Possum Jenkins has ample space to explore a multitude of sounds. “All Is Not Lost” drops in handclaps and off-mic choruses to lift up its heartened message. “Back to You” picks back up on the album’s central themes: “Familiar pavement, streets I know/I look for the road sign by the gravel road”, Nathan Turner sings in the band’s most seamless marriage of acoustic and electric.

74/100

Possum Jenkins will perform at Ziggy’s on Friday in support of Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit.

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