The Pine Hearts – Lost Love Songs
Recorded in a small Oregon town The Pine Hearts provide a precision-bluegrass performance & explore what has been lost, the value of old friends, & moonshine around a campfire. The group came together with different backgrounds to create a modern diversified mix that’s sophisticated.
There are several exceptional tunes on this 13-cut LP — Lost Love Songs (Drops Feb 18– Independent). For me they began to spin tunefully with “Wouldn’t You Know,” & “Darling Don’t the Sunlight in Your Eyes.” Some bluegrass units tend to go heavy on mandolin & fiddle interaction. This can grate on some unfamiliar ears since the tonality can be tinny. But The Pine Hearts add sufficient depth as witnessed on these vibrant tracks. There are more bottom notes (upright bass) that surround their strings & make the repertoire all the more appealing. Their accents provide sincerity & I say that because Oregon isn’t necessarily known for bluegrass.
“Ocean In Your Veins,” – great title — is a nurtured performance that rolls along with vocal unified silkiness. The tune is genuinely catchy & though the lead vocals can be thin it’s that very quality that makes the song sound youthful, exuberant & happy. Irony? Maybe. But it works. It works.
The midtempo tune “Losing You,” where the vocals are smooth as syrup & performed with suitable flow is well-crafted. There are some cornpone/novelty-oriented tunes like “Sugarcane,” but these are fun songs that aren’t to be analyzed. The playing possesses humor & they are true & worthy. As is the more melancholy but excellent “Unrequited Days.”
Though their trek through bluegrass has nice touches of originality “Oceans & Limousines,” adds a trumpet. A surprise & adds identity to the band. With “Bones of the Vineyard,” they change pace & maintain fine vocals accompanied by mandolin & banjo.
The band: Joey Capoccia (guitars/vocals/songwriter), Derek McSwain (mandolin/vocals), Dean Shakked (bass/vocals) with Lob Strilla (banjo/piano), Bevin Foley (violin) & Bart Budwig (harmonies & trumpet).
“Long Gone Crazy,” has stronger vocals, has weaknesses but is not worth noting. The song is constructed in a vintage-like Goose Creek Symphony style that keeps it, nonetheless interesting. There aren’t any inferior songs on this CD. The Pine Hearts strike a balance & they deliver a blue-ribbon presentation.
One must remember that especially urban areas are not all familiar with bluegrass. There are a few artists who have broken through the mainstream barrier – Alison Krauss & Union Station are the most notable. Before he broke nationwide even Elvis Presley introduced the genre of bluegrass in 1954 with a more rock-oriented Bill Monroe bluegrass classic “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Even Monroe liked it. Monroe was the man who was the Father of Bluegrass.
This isn’t brain music, it’s foot-tapping, finger-snapping, knee-slapping joy. Try it in small doses — it can be habit-forming.
Color image courtesy of The Pine Hearts website. The 50-minute CD produced by The Pine Hearts & Bart Budwig will be available @ https://thepinehearts.com/