Reviewed by Jonathan DeWoskin
Well, this is a twist – I’m reviewing a country album. If you’re like me, you need to be in a certain mood for country music. Oh, you have it in your iPod, but you couldn’t be bothered to swipe your way into the genre list. Better to let Pandora, Spotify or DJ Steve* throw in a few tracks for you. I’ll admit it took a little bit of forcing myself to give the Pine Travelers a try by dropping their music on my driving playlist. I stuck the album between a few tracks I like to ease my way into them and just let it play.
Here’s the thing I discovered when I truly listened – you don’t have to feel like a country album to hear them. Most of their tracks are folksy, upbeat and infectiously happy. They’ll make you smile. After a few weeks of driving around, I found myself singing along to Minnesowisconsiana and Fade whenever they came up.
Some of you are old enough to remember how people enjoyed music before the digital delivery and the iPod. You put on an album or you played a tape and unless you wanted to do a lot of fiddling, you listened to the album from start to flip to finish. A good album was one you could play without feeling the need to interrupt. For me, that’s the first Led Zeppelin album and pretty much the entire Everclear catalog. Sure, you have your favorite tracks, but you’d listen to something from the album that’s less popular if you enjoyed the sound overall. That’s the Pine Travelers in a nutshell. Like comfort food on the table, they’re a winner whenever they’re on your speakers. No need to pick a few tracks to mix in with others. This fusion of country, folk and bluegrass stands regardless of your mood.
There’s nothing stopping you from cherry picking your favorites, of course. I especially enjoyed Everything is Right and Biggest Small Town. If you leave your playlist to an algorithm, you might miss out on these guys.
*DJ Steve Jobs, AKA the iTunes Genius. Shout out to Kyle Kinane, my new favorite comedian.