Half Notes: The Tierney Sutton Band – American Road (2011)

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The Tierney Sutton Band learned something about themselves, and about this land, during their many travels for performances. These ruminations, actually begun before the group’s 2009 project Desire, have finally coalesced within the timeless and refined American Road — a slow-cured reconstruction of a dozen venerable favorites on the BFM label, performed as jazz and folk vocal pieces with a pair of upfront, woody basses. Sutton, a Grammy-nominated singer, has worked with this group for 18 years, and that long history spent traveling along the country’s highways and back roads feeds into the set’s sense of homey reverie, too. There isn’t much here that’s unfamiliar, from traditional pieces like “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Grace,” to pre-rock songbook tunes from Gershwin and Sondheim. But Sutton, and bassists Kevin Axt and Trey Henry, add a number of small accents that bring out new drama in the work. American Road ends up flowing like an interesting travelogue through places you’ve zoomed through before, but are only just now taking the time to fully appreciate.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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