This wonderfully low key collection of songs comes from Pennsylvania-based Caroline Reese and her band, The Drifting Fifth; a gathering of 11 acoustic based songs that mix the best elements of folk, country/alt-country and straightforward, no bullshit rock & roll. Tenderfoot seems to be an apt title; the tenderness at times of Ms. Reese’s voice mixed with the furious playing (not in an angry, but passionate manner) is a perfect balance.
The Neil Young-like feel of “Unlocked” is a perfect, subtle way to open the album, complete with quiet but crisp acoustic guitar, yearning harmonica and her rich voice showcased in harmony with one another; contrast that with the dynamically upbeat “Airshow” and its immediate guitar attack and taut rhythm. Catchy and rollicking, it’s an early favorite in one listen. “New Tricks” is another guitar assault, introduced by feedback squalor and again, a just-right pop-py structure but enough tension to keep it interesting and intense; “Angel Fire” is just Ms. Reese’s enticing voice accompanied by a Resonator; “Screen Doors” is that wonderful combination of soft, slow and mournful acoustic guitar and underlying effects and feedback, kicking in with a stark shuffle rhythm and “Beast” is a breakneck country gallop that equals the best of anything you’d hear in a honkytonk with on-the-one harmonies but then reaches fever pitch and veers right into heavy rock, which is spectacular.
As I said, 11 songs that work seamlessly in tandem with one another, veering from barebones performances to downright powerhouse deliveries. Caroline Reese and The Drifting Fifth have done themselves proud with this release. Tenderfoot is a top-flight piece of gold.
Tenderfoot is available now