Music

The Lonely Heartstring Band Strike a New Chord in 'Smoke & Ashes' (album stream) (premiere)

Photo: Michael Spencer / Courtesy of Concord Music

Smoke & Ashes is a fine culmination of the Lonely Heartstring Band as individuals and as a collective soul, showcasing their newly-refined progressive bluegrass sound.

Since the Lonely Heartstring Band first dove into their 2016 debut album, Deep Waters, the quintet has been well-regarded for their penchant to bend expectations. Where bluegrass and folk conventions may have expected them to veer one direction, they've gone any which way on their quest to innovate sound through the study of subversion. Keeping traditional roots at their foundation, the band progresses that much further in developing new sonic realms to explore on their latest LP, Smoke & Ashes.

Between the twin Clements brothers, George (guitar/lead vocals) and Charles (bass/harmonies), Patrick M'Gonigle (fiddle/harmonies), Gabe Hirshfeld (banjo), and M. Witler (mandolin), each member of the Lonely Heartstring Band has their musical strengths and preferences. Rather than bend their amalgamated route in the direction of one or another's leanings, the band deftly crafts a soundscape for each of them to explore on equal footing. Even when considering their overarching love for vintage pop rhythms and hooks beside their aforementioned bluegrass origins, the collective can weave together something that works.

The Lonely Heartstring Band's folk roots shine through in their knack for storytelling. Leaning somewhat into pop conventions doesn't sacrifice any sense of variety or individuality in the quality of their lyricism or the emotion with which they convey their music. Likewise, the group knows well how to bring the clarity and precision of bluegrass into a broader field without gutting the genre's characteristics. Smoke & Ashes is a fine culmination of the Lonely Heartstring Band as individuals and as a collective soul, showcasing what the greater horizon might look like for them and their newly-refined sound. It releases on 1 February via Rounder.

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