The instrumental opener of In the Pines
' self-titled CD plays like a worker shoveling coal into the bowels of a steamship. It's a slow, grinding tune, and it serves as a good introduction to a Kansas City band that plays like everyone in it is covered in blood and soot. The band's mainly acoustic, minor-key arrangements (with strings played by Laurel Morgan on violin and Hannah Kendle on viola) and its communal approach to singing create a sound that wrings sadness and beauty from the same note without sacrificing demon-driven intensity. Desolate and strange, the music has an earthy, emotionally wrought quality that shows a variety of influences. Turn-of-the-century folk, Leadbelly and Nirvana may not have much in common on first inspection, but the threads of good songwriting, narrative-driven lyrics and raw emotion that run through them also stitch together In the Pines.