Poor Old Shine. Poor Old Shine.
Signature Sounds, 2013.
Poor Old Shine is roots Americana group from Mansfield, Connecticut that just released it’s self-titled debut album. And when I say “just” I mean just- less than a week ago, as I’m writing this. So forgive me if the short notice and defending my dissertation have delayed this post a day (and a huge congrats to ETTG founder Greg Jones who is now “Dr. Jones”). Located smack-dab in the middle of Connecticut, Poor Old Shine has a rural heart but an urban polish; their skill and mastery shine through any preconceptions of folk music, similar to many of their contemporaries in the current folk renewal.
From the vocal harmonies to the crickets and footsteps, this group brings the familiarity of the back porch into your living room, while still holding on to the excellent sound recording quality that can be lacking in some first albums or roots bands. Their instrumentation on the individual tracks varies quite a bit, but always manages to match the feeling and sound of the lyrics at play. The overall experience is almost like walking in on a musically-inclined friend’s party in the middle of an impromptu set by talented acquaintances. Growing up with music-loving parents who sought out like-minded individuals, I was in the audience for a number of sets that happened just as described, so this album felt like coming home to me. The added bonus with Poor Old Shine is the original songs. I love a good traditional piece as much as anybody, but having a comfortable feel and sound with new words and lines is something special, a feeling of surprise and joy at the new-found entertainment.
Their songs run from under three- to over five-minutes, right in that sweet spot where you can get a fully developed story line and don’t get bored with repetition. To see the honed presence and attention to detail in a group on its first album is uncommon and a great sign of their ability to really excel at the full complement of skills needed in a lasting musical career. They’re currently touring around the northeast region, but I’ll be on the look out for the next time they’re in Ohio or Pennsylvania, because this is a group that has me genuinely excited to hear them play in person. Check out their album, and maybe I’ll meet you at a concert some time.
Personnel: Chris Freeman, Antonio Alcorn, Max Shakun, Harrison Goodale, Erik Hischmann
Tracks: Weeds or Wildflowers, Footsteps in My Ear, Country Pocket, Ghosts Next Door, Punching the Air, Right Now, Empty Rocking Chair, The Hurry All Around, Love Song, Tear Down the Stage