[20 January 2009]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Magnolia Summer are pretty upfront with who they are on Lines from the Frame. Most of the record is Americana by the book, moving between rockers like “Like Setting Suns” and lilting ballads like “Birds Without a Wire”, the band leans on the touch of pedal steel and the Chris Grabau’s hushed vocals. But what makes this record not just another cookie-cutter Americana record is that Grabau and company are pretty good at what they do. The subtle touch of a violin, the gentle way Grabau can dial his guitar down, and all the energy that comes when they let loose on standouts like “Pulling Phase to the Ground” and “Wrong Chords”. In fact, those songs make you wish that they rocked out a little more on this disc as the ballads, though mostly beautiful and heartfelt, begin to lose their effect as they pile up. As with their last album, the band still seems poised to really hit their stride and gain a larger audience. And while they just miss that greatness again, Lines from the Frame is still another solid album from a band that seems to be on the cusp of something more.