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Pert Near Sandstone (from the album Waiting Days as a self-release) (by Lee Zimmerman)
Pert Near Sandstone is representative of the new sound of modern Bluegrass, one that hews to a traditional tapestry while still retaining an accessible sound that allows for contemporary credence. Over the course of their seven studio albums, two live discs, and a two-track EP, they’ve slowly built a committed following while also ensuring their credibility with the critics. It was hardly surprising that their first album was a live release, offering immediate proof that they had the chops needed to garner a solid reputation within the stringboard scene.
The Minneapolis-bred band proves the point yet again with their new album, Waiting Days. The group’s four singer/songwriters, each an able instrumentalist — bassist Justin Bruhn, banjo player Kevin Kniebel, guitarist J Lenz, and multi-faceted Nate Sipe on mandolin, steel guitars, fiddle — convey a compelling sound that goes from rousing revelry (“I’ve Been Traveling” “End of the Line”) to sounds of steady assurance (“Out of Time”, “Who to Choose”). An array of special guests add their touches as well, accentuating the melodies with piano, trumpet, pedal steel, percussion, and massed harmony vocals.
Engineer Ryan Young, who also plays organ and fiddle and oversaw the mix, deserves credit to a great degree. A current member of another heralded NuGrass ensemble, Trampled by Turtles, and an original Pert Near Sandstone member, he helps find ideal symmetry in the musical mesh, ensuring that the melodies never get buried in the band’s dynamic delivery, while holding to an even blend of frenzy and finesse.
Likewise, there’s messaging implicit in many of these songs, several of which speak to the need to remain steadfast in the face of challenging times. The titles of selected tracks reflect the unsettling circumstance — particularly, “Clouds Are Gathering” “Believe”, and “Lay Down Your Burdens”. Yet none are more emphatic than “Out of Time”, a cautionary tale that warns of dire possibilities yet to come. In that regard, the title track serves as a rallying cry of sorts, one that urges listeners not to stand idly by as danger descends from every corner and crevice, often from unexpected origins.
That said, Waiting Days remains a surprisingly jubilant sounding album, from the celebratory tones of “On to Dawn” and “Who to Choose” through to the aforementioned title track itself. As a result, Waiting Days ought to be considered as nothing less than a most welcome repast. (by Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Pert Neer Sandstone from AMAZON
For more information, please visit the Pert Neer Sandstone website
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