Oh, to have grown up in mid-‘90s Virginia. To see it through the eyes of bands grown and cultivated there, it was a mythical place full of camaraderie, high spirits and friendly folks dedicated to seizing the day. The essence of that scene lives on through the music of its most prominent acts, groups like Dave Matthews Band and Carbon Leaf. On the latter band’s newest release, they deliver 13 tunes pitch perfect for good times, good friends and summer living.
Those already predisposed to liking the band’s blend of infectious melodies, affirming lyrics and frat-folk will again be pleased. Listeners asking for a bit more may find the record a mixed bag. Standout tracks like “Lake of Silver Bells”, “Indecision” and “Snowfall Music” treat listeners to gliding, chart-worthy melodies and polished pop-rock backing. Other cuts (most notably “What Have You Learned?,” “Meltdown” and “Seed”) come off as dated relics of the ‘90s rock scene from which the band emerged. One of the album’s most atypical songs is one of its best; Another Man’s Woman”, if not terribly profound or ambiguous, serves as an exemplary signal of where the band has the ability to go: much darker than other tracks, the song mixes in country influences and some dirty blues-rock to great effect.
“For me, this is an album that’s focused on growth and maturity, but it’s not deadly serious,” lead singer Barry Privett says in the band’s current web bio. His analysis is spot on; Nothing Rhymes with Woman shows Carbon Leaf making continued steps toward musical maturation but, at times, failing to take themselves seriously to the point of distraction.