Review: Burnt Pines Carve Out a Dynamic Sophomore Set

The Burnt Pines/Don’t Look Down/Adraela Records
3.5 out of Five Stars

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At first glance, one might be somewhat surprised to find an international trio that’s so obviously influenced by Americana, one would be hard-pressed to guess they didn’t originate from here in the heartland. Nevertheless, The Burnt Pines—Danish-born singer and lyricist Kris Skovmand, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and arranger Aaron Flanders, and Portuguese-born keyboard player and arranger Miguel Sá Pessoa—excel within an expansive folk-pop noir that is effortlessly enticing even on first hearing. That said, they mine a certain familiarity factor, giving songs such as “Pushing On,” “In From the Outside,” “The Ghost Living in my Beer,” “What Did You Come Back For,” and the title track ready comparisons to Crosby, Stills & Nash pointedly and particularly. That’s hardly a criticism, especially considering the fact that The Burnt Pines are wise enough to retrace such a timeless template.

That said, the similarities aren’t so indelible as to detract from the fact that this band is also quite capable of making memorable music of its own. As a debut album, Don’t Look Down has been carefully crafted through an approach that’s markedly memorable as well. So too, considering the fact that the album was recorded remotely in separate studios speaks to the chemistry the band has at its command. It’s one thing to be so in sync when the musicians are sharing studio space. It’s quite another to find that same unity when the members are 3,000 miles apart.

As a result, Don’t Look Down boasts a sound that’s both ethereal and effusive, all upbeat in its perspective without falling prey to any gratuitous flouting of excess emotion. Standout songs “Your Magic Is To Blame,” and “Welcome Home!” convey a shimmer and shine that continues to resonate long after their luminous melodies finally fade away. 

Simply stated, Burnt Pines deserves credit for what’s best described as one of the more impressive efforts in recent memory. Hopefully, they’ll continue to build on this success and continue to carve out a distinctive presence going forward. Don’t Look Down suggests a future where things can only look up. 

Photo courtesy Burnt Pines website

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