4.5 out of 5 stars
Attention folks: there is a band on the Americana music scene that deserves to be given a good listen and that band is the Brooklyn-based group, Yarn. They just released their second studio album, Empty Pockets, last month and it is a mighty fine piece of work.
Recorded at Excello Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y., the album doesn’t sound like something a bunch of city-folk would have recorded, rather, a backwoods jamboree of country songs with intricate bluegrass instrumentation. Empty Pockets is one of my favorite releases of the year thus far.
Yarn’s debut self-titled album, released in 2007, hit #14 on the Americana Music Association’s Top 40 chart. Since then, the band, which features lead singer and songwriter Blake Christiana, guitarist/vocalist Trevor MacArthur, mandolin player Andrew Hendryx, bassist Rick Bugel and drummer Jay Frederick, have been touring heavily on the East Coast, with occasional trips to Nashville. Along the way, they met various musicians who have contributed to the recording of the new album, including fiddler/vocalist Caitlin Cary (Whiskeytown, Tres Chicas), banjoist Tony Trischka and New Bohemian Edie Brickell. The results are a very listenable Americana album with country-influenced songwriting and bluegrass-influenced instrumentation.
Songwriter Christiana is an edgy, straightforward writer with songs dealing with life’s personal losses, outrages and embarrassments. His lyrical style is a pleasure to listen to and is delivered in a laid back storyteller kind of way — much like Gram Parsons, Lyle Lovett or Ryan Adams. Standouts include the upbeat “You Don’t Love Me Anymore,” the beautiful ballad “Music’s Only Outlaw,” the album’s title track “Empty Pockets,” and the darker “Ain’t That a Sin.”
— Jonathan Keller