Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: Hillary Reynolds Band - The Miles Before Us

When Hillary Reynolds sings the powerful lines, "Have you ever been to the bottom of a bottle/And wanted just a little bit more," stark instrumentation framing her soulful voice in the intro to the song "Can't Let You Go," you're know you're in for a treat. With their third album, The Miles Before Us, the Hillary Reynolds Band delivers a plethora of these moments, laden with emotion and richly textured with strong Americana that's flavored with elements of folk, country, pop, rock, jazz, and bluegrass. The result is an album that is well worth the listen.

The collective formed when they met at the vaunted Berklee College of Music, coming together over a love of traditional music, and they quickly gelled and took to one another. Now based in Boston, the band has enjoyed a number of accolades and opportunities, performing on the stages of the "Northeast Pennsylvania Bluegrass Festival, Mile of Music Festival in Appleton, WI, the Blue Plate Special on WDVX Knoxville, the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, and Green Bay's Meyer Theatre and Fox 11 morning show “Good Day Wisconsin.” Further praise has come their way from critics and fans like fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss and they've seen their songs work their way onto the playlists of multiple radio stations while individual members of the band have been afforded the chance to work with "notable artists like Wyclef Jean, Imogen Heap, and The Click Five, and Michael Manring."
All of these accolades come honestly as the Hillary Reynolds Band is a talented quintet, making music that is alternately honest and enjoyable. With Reynolds managing lead vocal duties, she's joined by Connor Reese on guitar, Trevor Jarvis on cello and backing vocals, Jeff Hale on drums, and Chris Mewhinney who shines on electric and acoustic bass. There's a strong chemistry that's evident throughout the whole of the record and it's no doubt due to the strong ties this group shares.
The Miles Before Us starts simply with "Took Me a While," a breezy pop-tinged track with singsong vocals and bright piano and twinges of strings that give it that touch of country and "Pretending I'm In Love" continues that same vibe, Reynolds' vocals smooth and rich and somewhat reminiscent of Norah Jones in its lower registers. "Honey Come Home" marks a shift, the pace slowing to a gentle acoustic shuffle, brushed drums and plucks of banjo and swells of cello lending emotional tones before seguing into the gem that is "Can't Let You Go."
Forrest O'Connor guests on "I Surrender," which opens with a soul-stirring Appalachian a cappella feel before breaking out into a barn burning acoustic jam, mandolin, guitar, and more raging forth with passion while "Braver Than We Think" pulls things back to a gentler, rolling listen with warm harmonies. "What It Is" picks up those sunny melodies and runs with them followed by "Balloon & Kite," two tracks that are playful but are among the few that fail to truly register here.
"Crossing the Line" returns to where the band really excels however, a strong acoustic arrangement providing the framework for Reynolds' voice to shine as "This Love of Ours" makes a case for the highlight song of the album with its powerful instrumentation and lyrics like, "Oh, take my heart when you leave/In the morning/Leave your love on the pillow/So I can love you/While you're gone." It's rich with emotion and makes the best of Reynolds and company. The goodness continues with the stark sounds of "I Didn't Know Who Else to Call," the band working a "less is more" approach that really works while they let it all hang out on the rock-inspired "Keep On Driving," ending things out with plenty of energy and leaving listeners chomping at the bit for more.
And that’s exactly what’s bound to happen after folks give The Miles Before Us a listen. The Hillary Reynolds Band shows here that they’re the real deal and deliver your money’s worth and more, crafting compelling Americana-flavored jams with authenticity and passion. And that’s a formula that will have you reaching for the “repeat” button time and time again.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Andrew!!