What makes it work is its unselfconscious quality; Pinmonkey's music is simple and from the heart, and it adopts classic country archetypes trains, the devil woman, the cheap motel, the hometown with an ease that once again recalls the best of 1970s country-rock. The group's debut CD actually contains quite a variety of song types. There's a pleasantly motorlike cover of the Carter Family's "Lonesome Pine Special," a terrific new neoclassic country piece from Gillian Welch's pen called "Two Days from Knowing," several romantic creations by mainline Nashville writers, and four originals. Reynolds attacks each with equal energy and commitment, and the group's music hangs together as a collection both varied and coherent. It's hard to imagine that any other alternative performers could have pulled off the slow homecoming ballad "Augusta," or would even have tried. But when Reynolds sings, "Oh, Augusta, take me in / 'Cause I never can seem to win," it's believable and refreshing.
Pinmonkey returns to the Ark on Sunday, May 19.
[Originally published in May, 2002.]