Possum Trot Orchestra
The core components of Possum Trot Orchestra date back, as they say around here, “a ways.” In fact, I myself remember witnessing the seeds of this band more than a decade ago as I trolled the coffeehouse circuit and knowingly stroked my soul patch, digging the acoustic-based sounds of the Flying Suraci. Susan and Rob Suraci have since expanded their musical palette, adding a full-band lineup. In the process, Possum Trot Orchestra took on elements of rock, country, even jazz and some zydeco-informed touches. Now comes PTO’s third release, the enigmatically titled Night Crow. The band hasn’t abandoned their acoustic core (in fact, many of the subtle sonic extras that adorn most of the songs here come courtesy of acoustic-based instruments like slide guitar and mandolin), but it’s definitely a full-on combo at work, drums, bass and all.
A sprightly mix of boogie, folk, rock and country with a jazz-inflected flair, most of the songs on Night Crow flow along with a low-impact vibe, regardless of how heavy the lyrics might get. “When I think about another year here / Oh, I’d rather wake up dead,” Susan Suraci sings on the Eagles-tinged “Close to Leaving,” an easygoing number that might not reveal its inner turmoil if you’re not listening closely. “Night Crow Blues” leavens lyrics like “Don’t it make your poor heart sore” with a walking bassline and uptempo kick.
The prevailing vibe, at first listen, seems to be a combination of Neil Young, James Taylor, the aforementioned Eagles and just a touch of a less quirky Talking Heads. Though Night Crow’s tunes don’t recall any one of these icons directly, PTO manage to reflect qualities of all of them. By turns energetic, organic, pessimistic and tuneful, this collection is pleasant to listen to, even amidst the soul reportage and modern problems reflected in the lyrics — which only add depth to the album, by the way. More at www.thepossumtrotorchestra. (D.M. Jones)
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