Just as fulfilling as discovering a brand new artist and watching them rise to fame, it’s similarly rewarding to stumble upon a local band whose music has national implications and is better than all those major radio acts. Such is the case for this outfit out of Arkansas called Posey Hill. Comprised of sisters Kristian Miller, Erin Wisniewski and Megan Burnett, they immediately stun you with their three part blood harmonies. But what really ups the ante for this sister trio is the original songs they present on their new album No Clear Place to Fall.
You can consider this like a family band of sorts. Father Doug Burnett was a bluegrass picker in Arkansas throughout the ’70s and ’80s before his three daughters were born. Instead of forgoing his musical passion when the family arrived, he taught the sisters to sing and raised them right on the best American influences. Mix that bluegrass raising with a little country and classic rock, and you’ve got the fetching sound of Posey Hill that casts a wide net of appeal.
From the opening phrase of the opening song “First Train,” the strong sense of melody enhanced by steel guitar pulls you in and commands you to listen. Seeming to be a bygone story of a soldier coming home to his young bride, you’re immediately intrigued by the advanced sense of perspective of this band’s storytelling. The second song “Keeping Tyler” might find initial favor with some when they figure out it references Tyler Childers, but it’s the underlying story that makes the song much more than just an advantageous name drop.
Throughout No Clear Place To Fall, you continue to find little or no fault, while the songs speak to a smart and studious approach to the writing craft. “Box of Pine” is a classic country murder ballad, only told from the perspective of the buried. There are a lot of songs about love here, but they all avoid the usual clichés, and are sung with a passion that leads you to believe they weren’t just imagined, but lived.
In an era where it feels like some of the biggest acts in independent country are taking their fandom for granted by cutting corners on albums or being miserly with the amount of tracks, Posey Hill pulled out all the stops to make this album something that would capture ears well beyond friends, family, and established fans. Instead of cobbling together local resources, they traveled to Nashville to work with producer Nick Bullock at the Doghouse Studio to do it right.
The foundation of Posey Hill is the songs and the sister harmonies, but that’s not where No Clear Place to Fall stops giving. Every song is graced with excellent instrumentation, and an effort to really understand what makes each song unique and special. Then they bring to bear whatever is necessary to accentuate those important attributes.
This is especially illustrated on the dark and foreboding song “Send Him My Love.” The voices of Kristian, Erin and Megan aren’t just vehicles to carry forward the words. They’re employed like and instrument themselves ebbing and flowing in the push and pull of the emotion of the song. The tape playback at the beginning of “Monster” helps set the unsettled mood of two lovers awakening desires that are better left undisturbed.
Posey Hill have really done their homework, patiently assembled an album’s worth of songs worthy of being heard, and rendered them in a way that makes it hard to pull away. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not especially easy either, even if they make it appear to be. It’s the foundation of talent, the quotient of time these sisters have spent singing with each other, and an uncompromising approach to a make a great album that results in that very thing.
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