Duluth, Minnesota, has never been known as a hotbed of country music. Luckily for us listeners, good country music can come from anywhere, even a place as far north as Duluth. Breanne Marie and The Front Porch Sinners is a band that calls its sound “Great Lakes country,” which is as good a description as any for a band that features healthy doses of fiddle and pedal steel.
Breanne Marie wrote the songs for the new album Juniper after the death of her brother in 2018. Of the new album, she said, “I took a moment to pause. I have a lot of reasons to cry. I have a lot to be grateful for. If this album has a pace, it’s a long hike in the Rockies and I’m just a juniper tree surviving the elements.”
The melancholy mood of the album is especially apparent in “Hard Time.” The melody is subdued with some sad sounds especially from the piano and the fiddle. The lyrics match well with the tone especially when she sings, “If I could find a reason to try, I might get up and do something today.”
The subdued mood throughout the album is a lot like the indie rock of the 90s. In fact, that’s a pretty good summary of this album. Great Lakes country is a fitting description, but a more thorough description is to say that this album sounds like what would happen if your favorite indie band from the 90s decided to make a country album.
The melodies on this album are well-crafted. Each melody has layers of sound that make you want to hear the album on the best available sound system. The vocals fit perfectly with the melodies. Breanne Marie sings in a voice that matches the melody. Sometimes she sings in something of a whispered tone similar to Hope Sandoval. At other times like in “Too Tired To Cry”, she brings the volume of the vocals without overpowering the melancholy tone. Beyond the tone of her vocals, she also has the tremendous ability to tell a story. Like Tom Waits, she chooses her words to give the listener the chance to experience the story of the song. A good example is the song “Good Bones” in which she sings “Goodbye, home sweet home” and makes you feel like you’re right there while she says it.
This album is very well done. It is a good blend of indie rock and country with melodies that are enjoyable even if they are sad. It is a good album for a rainy day or really any day where you just feel like embracing the melancholy. Juniper was released on February 19 and is available everywhere now. Order your copy here.