Things got diluted and sloppy drunk fast in alt-country once too many ambulance-chasing bands jumped into the game after ’90s pathfinders Uncle Tupelo and spinoffs Son Volt and Wilco defined the genre.
Not so with the Canebreakers.
The Lake Charles-based group didn’t rush its record out but rehearsed and collaboratively developed its originals for over a year before recording them in the organic ambience of Jon Paul Zimmerman’s turn-of-the-last-century wood-frame house.
While the group is rooted in Wilco (“If She Thinks of Me,” “Don’t Want You”), and, to a lesser extent, the Band (“The Promised Land”), what makes it work is the Canebreakers’ trio of alternating songwriters who write in complementary styles.
Taylor Clements, who wrote the bulk of this bakers’ dozen, emphasizes catchy and accessible tunes while Zimmerman focuses on themes of returning home (“Saltgrass and Sugarcane”). Mason Fedducia has the voice of a poet and occasionally tosses in a jazz chord (“Wide Lines”) to color things up.
A lot of arrangements are unhurried and shift subtly throughout, such as on Fedducia’s seven-minute opus “Frozen Needles.” It expands from soft to loud and then back again and traverses through a jammy interlude before calming down.
On occasion, the group hits its harmonies (“Wish Away”) but never overcapitalizes on them.
Two bonus tracks, one of which is a Cajun waltz propelled by a scruffy backend, are included but not listed since they’re outside the concept of the record. Definitely worth checking out.