The Pine Hearts – Back to Sustain

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | 4/5

The Pine Hearts play well oiled Bluegrass, with acoustic guitar, mandolin, double bass and three voices locking together like cogs on a machine. Back to Sustain, the three piece’s forth studio album is recorded live in a local community hall, compounding that sense of one mind, six arms and three voices in unison. With material mostly from their earlier albums, this is an album of live pared back revisits. “Back To Sustain” the opening title track has a wonderful sense of melancholia and that mix of loss and nostalgia. Dean Shakked’s upright bass,growls and provides percussive low notes, while Joey Cappoccia’s guitar and Derek McSwain’s mandolin provide train track notes over the top with beautiful old time harmonies over the top.

Traditional song “Stealin” has some slick group bluegrass shared vocals. Tracks are short, nothing overstays its welcome. “By You On The Bayou” is another infectious tune with a great train rhythm and sense of movement. Great sense of fun in the word play of the title and the verses too, carrying the band’s sense of fun out of the speaker. Fast, nimble picking and a sense of humour in the lyric are in order with the band’s version of Scott Nolan’s “Good Luck By The Sea”. “Alright Fine” is another emotionally charged song with a reflective resignation in the lyrics behind those sweet harmonies on this album highlight. Occasionally there are depths and power in The Pine Hearts version of this old time good time music. “Living With Depression” has a wonderfully almost reggae rhythm and a lyric and vocal with edge. Adds an edge to a classic Country drinking song like “The Heartache Or The Whisky”. The Pine Hearts turn in a fine bluegrass version of Tom Petty’s “Orphan Of The Storm” again deftly played with lovely harmonies. “All Night Long”  has a particular sparkle and shine to the playing, some classic call and response chorus vocals and a touch of skiffle. This is wonderfully recorded, beautifully played, feel good music that has bottled the immediacy and energy of a moment.