The Pine Hill Haints - The Song Companion of a Lonestar Cowboy LPSingle Lock Records
On the Pine Hill Haints' latest long-player, The Song Companion of a Lonestar Cowboy, they go there and to other colorful places on the Americana and Appalachian trail. The fifteen song sequence kicks off with "Fall Asleep" and "Back to Alabama," a fiery pair of rockabilly-meets-Irish-jig rave-ups, then winds through standout tracks like the Bo Diddley-grooved "Pretty Thing," a pounding tom-tom and fiddle take on the traditional "John Henry" and the catchy, cajun-flavored squeezebox pop of "Lone Star Kid." There are excursions into Sun Records-style country ("Midnight Mayor" and "Louise") and swampy blues (the saw-singing "Wade in the Water" and "Downtown Blues," which features guest J.D. Wilkes on harmonica).
Throughout, Barrier's strong tenor voice rings familiar and friendly, with deep echoes of everything from John Lee Hooker to Buddy Holly to Johnny Cash. And the band plays with a sense of abandon that comes from thousands of gigs behind them. It all sounds deceptively simple, but anyone who plays music knows better. The Pine Hill Haints do something very few roots bands can, which is to transcend influences and sculpt age-old sounds into soul music for our time.