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Yarn

Empty Pockets

(Ardsley; US: 23 Sep 2008; UK: Available as import)

For a bunch of Brooklynites, Yarn sure knows its country music. Empty Pockets, the band’s second release, sees them borrowing from country, folk, and classic rock & roll to knit together a sound that is Americana at its genrebending best. Bluegrass serves as the undercurrent to most of the album’s songs, thanks to mandolinist Andrew Hendryx and guest fiddle player Casey Dreissen (currently a member of Abigail Washburn’s Sparrow Quartet), while living legend Tony Trischka adds some wicked banjo to the background, content to let the vocals take center stage.


The band’s frontman and primary songwriter Blake Christiana has a voice reminiscent of Ryan Adams at his drugged out, Pneumonia-era best; thus it’s fitting that several tracks sound like they could be lost Whiskeytown songs, from the steel guitar crying in the background to the heartbreaking lyrics. “5 Guitars” even features bourbon-smooth vocals from ex-Whiskeytowner Caitlin Cary. Even old New Bohemian Edie Brickell joins the band to lend some harmony to the torchy and twangy “I’m Down”. Yarn may be one of the better unknown alt-country bands out there, but if satellite radio gets ahold of Empty Pockets, they won’t be unknown much longer.

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Juli Thanki is a graduate student studying trauma and memory in the postbellum South. She tries to live her life by the adage "What Would Dolly Parton Do?" but has yet to build an eponymous theme park, undergo obscene amounts of plastic surgery, or duet with Porter Wagoner (that last one might prove a little difficult, but nevertheless she perseveres). When not writing for PopMatters, Juli can generally be found playing the banjo incompetently, consuming copious amounts of coffee, and tanning in the blue glow of her laptop.


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