Album Review

The Monocle Band--- Not Really Bluegrass, Not Really Not

The Monocle Band - The Clearing

I expected bluegrass. The instrumentation says bluegrass--- guitars, violin, banjo, mandolin, accordion. The voices could easily handle bluegrass harmonies. But what we really have here is some topnotch Folk Pop more than anything. An harmonic choir steeped in Americana, if you will. Mainly acoustic with electric mist. That's the thing about this fairly recent music transformation--- no matter how you align the instruments, you're never sure what you're going to get.

Thanks to the voices and songwriting of Monica Marie LaBonte and Bill Huston, we get plenty. Plenty of folk-based tunes written with a Pop sensibility. Plenty of harmonies. Plenty of picking, though not upfront on the whole. Plenty of music to touch the gentle soul in those of us who love that. All toned toward the simple side of things, both topical and musical.

Didn't take me but a moment to hear what I needed. The opening track, “Medicine,” is a flowing country rocker reminiscent in feel of, say, Pure Prairie League during their early days, with female vocal, of course. It's the feel, you see, and few can completely pull it off. Heartsfield, maybe. Uncle Jim's Music. The Whites. The Eagles in their early days before Bernie Leadon left.  

 

You can pick your comparisons at will. While the music is fresh and at times invigorating, the focus seems to be in the past when bands and artists like Cat Mother and Mission Mountain Wood Band and Linda Ronstadt were denting eardrums. I could easily throw in a few dozen more and the Monocles would easily match, thanks to their ability to stretch genre smoothly and seemingly without thought. For instance, this video, which brings to mind one of my all-time favorite bands--- Hem.

 

And people say there is no good music anymore. They must be Trump supporters.

In the band's Kickstarter video below, remarks are made regarding the band's attempt to raise the music to a new level.

 

Good news. Though I have yet to hear their first album, I think it worked.