An unremarkable set spiced up with one astonishing song.
The Winterlings are Wolff Bowden and Amanda Birdsall, both of whom sing, play guitar and write country-inflected folk songs. Birdsall contributes other sonic textures as well, mainly keyboards and something called a banjitar. On The Animal Groom, the pair trade off as lead singer, and harmonies figure in nearly every song. Those songs range from the sincere and affecting ("Take Give", "Wildflowers") to the sincere but kind of dull ("The Postman", "Brave Then") to the jaunty ("Bird in the Corn"). Generally, Birdsall's voice is more compelling than Bowden's, which has an unfortunate tendency to slip into swoony Eddie Vedder-isms when you least expect it. Birdsall also has far and away the standout track on the album, "Jennie Hodgers", an unblinking old style ballad about a young woman who leaves home to fight in the Confederate army. With its rollicking banjo (banjitar?) underpinnings and dripping-with-yearning vocals, "Jennie Hodgers" is nearly worth the price of admission all by its lonesome.