REVIEW: Upstate “You Only Get A Few”


Upstate – You Only Get A Few

A sublime collection of atmospheric melodies inhabit Upstate’s 10-cut collection that kicks off with “Lovers & Friends,” — structurally in an early 70s folky airy traditional nature (think Fairport Convention with Sandy Denny). This particular tune is catchy & recalls some work that was done in the mid-60s by Richard & Mimi Farina.

Photo: Bridget Badore

There is a subtle white wine flavor to the well-played instrumentation & on tunes like “Auntie,” with its fine female unified vocalizing just shy of the work of Canada’s McGarrigle Sisters. This isn’t exciting music as much as relaxing music. They aren’t holding back either, there are jazzy turns that have nifty gravity & then they slip back into cottony softness. Sometimes the vocals are a little drenched in their syrup that I couldn’t make out the words but the “whirling” & shimmering musical style they possess is what gives the melodies lift. It’s like understanding what a foreigner is saying even if you don’t speak the language.

On “Befriend,” vocalists/guitarists Mary Webster & Melanie Glenn have a vocal touch together that’s similar to the richness of The Sons of the Never Wrong. Beautiful work with wonderfully mellifluous beauty to their voices. “Befriend,” almost has the dynamic heard at the conclusion of Seatrain’s “Rondo,” where the vocalist trades off on the clever Jim Roberts lyric structure. Nonetheless, this Upstate song is precious as is.

On some songs, their musical cache is similar style as Emmitt Tinley’s Colorado-based band The Prayer Boat. Upstate isn’t as focused on tight grooves as much as adding seasoning to their plaintive melodies & meticulous vocalizations (“Metaxy”). Just shy of an Indigo Girls feel but not having that mainstream appeal.

Produced by Dylan McKinstry (vocals/guitars/mandolin/piano/synths/pump organ) & Mary Webster You Only Get A Few (Drops March 31–Royal Potato Family) was recorded in Marlboro, New York & Brooklyn, NY. The CD packs enough interesting tunes to make it viable to folk purists as well as world music enthusiasts.

The band’s been around for 11 years & received acclaim for their arrangements & showcase on prior LPs. Many original songs come from their own life experiences & some with creative license. Exploring many diverse musical ideas is what propels their performances. Is it for everyone? Probably not. Some like their music driven by a locomotive & others prefer a long ride in a comfortable Bentley. Upstate has a sound closer to the Bentley.

One of the few male vocals comes on “Patty’s Diner,” & the contrast between that & the female-lite vocals is attractive in a sitting around the kitchen table singing type of way. Good late-night listening.

Musicians – Harry D’Agostino (vocals/bass/guitar/pump organ), Lee Falco (drums/percussion), Steve McKinstry (Hammond organ), Sally Conor Webster & Sam Fribush (pianos), Daniel Pencer (clarinet), Ginger Dolden & Pete Lanctot (violin).

Highlights – “Lovers & Friends,” “Befriend,” “Auntie,” “Catalpa” & “Patty’s Diner,”

Color CD cover by Conor Webster. Color image from Bandcamp. CD available at Bandcamp @ +

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