The Poison Oaks | Pine

Self-released (2011)
By NINA MASHUROVA  |  November 29, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars


It feels unfair for the Poison Oaks to release Pine, their debut 7-inch, on the cusp of another New England winter. Morning frosts encroach, but the sprightly banjo bounce and carefree handclaps on the title track and the heat-bug buzz on "Ninety" tempt you with the glimmer of brighter days. Such is the power of pop. In this case, this power is wielded by a five-to-15-person "folkestra" led by fiddler whirlwind Laura Cortese. Pine combines folky banjos and lyrical nods to nature with intricate instrumentation, jazz and swing elements, and choral vocals. In her best moments, such as on the standout "London Devil," Cortese's dark voice approximates Neko Case. During more passively pretty songs, Pine is a slick showcase for seasoned musicians. Cortese studied at Berklee, which can raise red flags among purists who insist that "real" art comes raw from the muse rather than from training and studio time. Pine does lack the immediacy that made the Poison Oaks so mesmerizing during their November residency at the Aviary in Jamaica Plain, but it's an album with promise. It remains to be seen whether that promise is of a deeper follow-up or just pleasant company for warmer days, before we retreat to our caves, noise bands, and frozen burritos.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Jamaica Plain, Boston, Music,  More more >
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