Salem, Oregon’s True North play tunes so smooth they bring to mind bluegrass-pop artists like Alison Krauss and Union Station, as well as old country legends like Hank Williams, Sr. Employing all the musical specifics of the bluegrass genre, True North embarks on instrumental solos with earnestness and humility.
One of the strongest songs on the album, ” ‘Til I Have You,” is a heartfelt love song, stating simply, “I got nothing to my name but a strong desire.” Vocalist Kristen Grainger sings with such poise and clarity that her vocals hold their own strong place among the supporting instruments. Tim Darby and Dale Adkins roll into their deliberate guitar solos with absolute ease, while bassist Suzanne Pearce keeps the beat pumping sweetly in the background.
From there, True North moves into great original bluegrass tunes like “Sweet Desiree” before veering into another direction with “Limbo” halfway through the disc. Here, the bass line drives the tune and the harmonies that pepper the chorus are followed appropriately by the sweet longing of a brief guitar solo. The song ends with a line that most country songwriters would kill to have written: “She’s in limbo between a stone and a state of grace.”
Grainger’s lyrics are introspective, capturing bits of small town life in vignettes that are purposeful and infectious. True North is able to veer from its bluegrass influences to embrace country-pop balladry with open arms. What many groups lose in the fire of lightning-fast solos, True North exemplifies with style and artistry. (Self-released)
–Kim Ruehl, West Coast Performer Magazine