Album: Within My Reach (2009)
Artist: Folding Mr. Lincoln
Where available/price: CDBaby, $12.97; iTunes, $9.99; Amazon, 99 cents for single “Within My Reach”
Songs: 1) It Happened Just the Other Day 2) Missing Her Pretty Green Eyes 3) The Cuckoo 4) Pretty Soon 5) Rain Down 6) Lay It All Down 7) Right Through That Door 8) On Wings 9) As She Softly Prayed 10) Youngest Child 11) All the Way to Redwood 12) Father’s Day 13) Within My Reach 14) Miracle of Mine
Band: Harry and Nancy Mestyanek (vocals), Cathryn Beeks (backing vocals), Brian “Nucci” Cantrell (drums), Jeff Berkley (bass and guitars), John McBride (pedal steel), Dennis Caplinger (fiddles, banjo, dobro, mandolin), and others
Harry and Nancy Mestyanek are competent vocalists and arrangers, delivering soft-voiced folk and blues tunes against a backdrop of violins, banjos, guitars, and drums. Their multipart harmonies are performed with precision. Imagine Ellis Paul with more of a twang — if you can — and less of his nasal vocal style and you’ll have Folding Mr. Lincoln.
Beyond that, the songwriting is conventional, too comfortable in shades of country, folk, and bluegrass and packaged under the umbrella of Americana. The lyrics are standard country complaints about missing lovers (“The Cuckoo,” a traditional song of unknown origin) and the difficulties of rising above one’s means (“Pretty Soon”).
Still, the chops are there. The Mestyaneks are steady, sure vocalists, and their backing crew creates toe-tapping, head-bobbing energy. Check out track 8, “On Wings,” in particular. With driving drums and skillful banjo picking, the intro hooks the listener and keeps them there.
Overall, Within My Reach is a solid selection of country tracks. Few attempts to break the mold are made, but likely that’s not what Folding Mr. Lincoln is going for.