The Winter Year
- City Dwelling Nature Seekers
At times swimming in harmony, at other times breaking out into exploratory instrumentation, The Winter Year is an album that defies pigeonholing. The sophomore album from the Pittsburgh alt-country band is a solid mix of imagery-laden songs and layered instrumentation. It's an album that feels at once familiar, yet new.
The combination of pleasing lead vocals from principal songwriter Michael McCormick, the lush harmonies, and the highly crafted musicianship from the band collective would not feel out of place on a Big Star album. Amongst the rootsy 1970's feel, there are other, more contemporary, echoes - something in the vocals that conjures up The Head and The Heart, something in the instrumental breakdown that gives a nod to The Felice Brothers with just a soupcon of Wilco.
And then there's that pedal steel. I'm a huge sucker for the cry of a pedal steel, and was smitten with the plaintive tears that its addition gave to many of the tracks. The two-minute pedal steel outro on I Take Lefts was a particularly nice touch. Lap steel, dobro, and various strings flesh out the guitar, bass and drums on the remainder of the album, making The Winter Year a surprisingly layered and masterful album.
City Dwelling Nature Seekers are definitely worth seeking out, and The Winter Year certainly bears repeated listens.