Review – “Rocky Top” – Poplar Pines/Nick Everett

Reviewed by Laura Stanley

It has been a while since I have been so blown away by the immense talent and diversity of a musician, let alone two, that I have never heard of. Rocky Top brings together two of the most talented and unknown musicians in the country, Nick Everett and Poplar Pines, creating a rich and wholesome sounding album.

I could compare Nick Everett to any number of musicians that have become immensely popular and you would be hard pressed to say I am wrong. Combining the multi-instrumental aspects of Andrew Bird, The Books, Montreal’s Patrick Watson, and even the folk melodies of Fleet Foxes, Nick Everett is a force to be reckoned with.

Beginning Everett’s half of the album with a sombre and mournful trumpet sound on the opening track, “Overflow,” the song quickly transforms, thanks to Everett’s delicate guitar picking and strong vocals, into a remarkable multi-faceted track.

Recorded at Rocky Top farm in Nova Scotia, Everett’s songs interweave, fitting together with ease and perfection while allowing the background noises to be a welcome addition to the music.

Overflowing with a stunning arrangement of percussion, guitars and heartfelt lyrics, “Liar,” which easily could be added to Andrew Bird’s masterpiece album, Armchair Apocrypha, is a standout on Rocky Top.

With a Patrick Watson feel to “Sit, Listen,” Everett shows off the strength of his vocals and creativity. By the end of the song, Everett slows the pace of the song down, ending on the same mournful sounds of the trumpet.

The other half of Rocky Top from Poplar Pines, Scott Biggar – vocals, guitars, banjo, David Casey – pedal steel, Thomas Hoy – percussion, Petar Markovitch – piano, and Devin Ryan – bass, creates a flawless transition from Everett’s songs, producing a sound that is reminiscent of folk-singer Nick Drake while incorporating the pedal steel to Hayden-like perfection.

Like Everett, Poplar Pines lets the authentic background sounds of Rocky Top farm add another element to their group of quietly spoken, folk songs.

“That Afternoon,” “Bouazizi,” and “A Man Without” incorporate a strong and clean full band, multi-instrumental sound, full of catchy lyrics and beautiful harmonies.

Although the other two tracks by Poplar Pines, “The Better Hand” and “A Pretty Girl Once Said to Me,” reflect a more classic and simplistic approach to the folk sound, it is done with an outstanding result.

Rocky Top showcases the tremendous talent of Nick Everett and Poplar Pines avoiding any disconnect with two artists, like on other split albums, enabling a harmony and strength that is a must hear.

Download Poplar Pines’ half here:

And Nick Everett’s half here:

Top Tracks: “Overflow,” “Liar,” “That Afternoon”

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*

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