Woody Pines is a rambler by nature. Living in trailers in Asheville, North Carolina, and now Nashville, Pines is the kind of performer who feels the pull of the rails as being a part of his nature. Indeed, his fourth album, Rabbits Motel, is an ode to the rootless lifestyle: “Hobo and His Bride” offers that anytime that a hobo dies, he gets to ride on the tail of Halley’s Comet through the sky. You’ll either find the sentiment romantic, or you’ll be peeling in laughter at the sheer absurdity of the image. Well, Rabbits Motel is a record that unfortunately straddles the poles between punch drunk love and being just punch drunk: it is disarming and cloyingly silly in about equal measure.
While the album does boast some fine flashes to ‘50s rockabilly and country-and-western twang (with just a pinch of rock and jazz thrown in for good measure), the problem is that Pines has a wispy voice that doesn’t carry through the material. When he sings the chorus to “Who Told Ya?”, it sounds like an owl trying to cut through the cover of night. And when you’re not paying attention to often silly lyrics, as outlined above, the album tends to work best taken in short spurts: most of the originals and covers included here are in the two-minute range; when Pines stretches out into the three and four minute terrain, as he does mid-record, the LP drags. Overall, there are worse albums out there than Rabbits Motel. However, the end result is so plain and generally uninteresting, you’d be better off living the experience of rail riding firsthand than living vicariously through Pines’ lackadaisical and only sometimes successful yearnings here. Rabbits Motel might be an okay place to visit, but you certainly wouldn’t want to live there. No siree.