Eastmountainsouth may not be a country act, but anybody that loves the edgier side of Emmylou Harris, for instance, will likely have a soft spot for this duo's music. The mood is hushed and sad, for the most part, so it may take a while to pick up on this group's subtle charms.
Its expressions range from the longing sung about on "Too Soon," to a cover of Stephen Foster's always timely "Hard Times." Kat Maslich takes the lion's share of the vocals here, but Peter Adams is also an equally compelling singer. These songs borrow lines from traditional sources now and again ("Rain Come Down" "The Ballad of Young Alban and Amandy"), yet it is certainly not a group that's living in the past. The sorrowful "Mark's Song," for example, is as singer/songwriter-ly as almost any worthwhile James Taylor or Ryan Adams track.
Peter Adams originally recorded these selections in his home apartment studio, before Mitchell Froom was brought in to add a little extra color. And although Froom has a reputation for putting a distinctive imprint upon his productions, Eastmountainsouth doesn't sound like it's sacrificed much of its originality here. In the end, Eastmountainsouth sure makes traditional music sound cool.