Review: Moonsville Collective – Moonsville II EP

At the crossroads of country folk and string band music, you’ll find the jammy picking sound of Moonsville Collective. Setting an ambitious goal for 2017, the band is releasing 20 new songs over the course of four albums; Moonsville II is the second offering in the series from the California quintet.

In 2013, Moonsville Collective broke from its more traditional string roots and started working on a more progressive style. Moonsville II plays homage to the group’s heritage, featuring mandolin and a healthy dose of banjo, but it also showcases their exploration of the country aspects of Americana with plaintive dobro, soulful organ, and plenty of guitar twang—combined with well-crafted and memorable lyrics, the album makes the most of its five track playlist.

Like their music, the band’s touring has seen a marked transition over the last couple of years.  Where they used to be road ramblers, they now find themselves spending more time closer to home, with their record release parties for the four 2017 albums taking the place of their normal live showcases. Many of Moonsville II’s strongest offerings carry an air of beauty captured through adventure, be it with a reminiscent eye to the past or with a bit of longing for the future. While their string band roots run deep, Moonsville Collective does not hide behind its music. In storytelling, it’s the details that paint the picture. Lyrically, they use their entire canvas to immerse the listener into the portrait—something on full display in album standout, “New Orleans.” The band opens a window into a lover’s heart, a place where only beauty shines, even in a stained and scarred city like NOLA. “Rumblin and Tumblin,” through its southern-style country rock guitar and bright mandolin, provides a hopeful touch to the underlying theme of separated loves dreaming of homecoming, a song that draws easy style comparisons to a more optimistic Zac Brown Band.

Moonsville II is an upbeat, string-driven, lyrical tapestry merging the best parts of storytelling country and traditional folk influences. It has me eagerly anticipating the forthcoming releases in the Moonsville series while basking in this album’s Americana vibes.

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