Think of Pinegrove as the banjo alt-country band you need when Mumford and Sons are a bit too vigorous. The emotional acousticism of Death Cab For Cutie gets wrapped up in a shimmering, light country twang on their latest album, ‘Cardinal’. You’d think they’d found their roots in Nashville or Austin, not New Jersey.
Earlier this month, frontman Evan Stephens Hall dropped by the NME basement to record some stunning acoustic renditions of ‘Aphasia’, ‘Old Friends’ and ‘Paterson + Leo’. It’s almost two years since the band signed to Run For Cover records, but their sound is just as raw, honest and velvety as ever.
Hall heads up a key for ‘Cardinal’ opener ‘Old Friends’. This acoustic rendition brings him even closer to those emotional outpourings from the record. The hush that precedes his description of “walking out in the nighttime springtime/Needling my way home”, ensures those silent paths are totally palpable.
On ‘Aphasia’, Hall plays with rhythms and tempo throughout, before bleeding into a high crescendo as he sings: “If I don’t have you by me then I’ll go underground.”
‘Paterson + Leo’, taken from the ‘Cardinal’ extended cut, is a short, mellow tribute to the album’s central theme of enduring friendship, that finds a perfect home under Hall’s one-man vocals and acoustic guitar.