New sounds from close to home
DENNIS CROMMETT IN THE BUFFALO SURROUND
Nature and nostalgia fuel Northampton singer-songwriter Dennis Crommett’s second solo album (and his first joint release with Whately’s Signature Sounds label) about growing up and growing older. Crommett, who plays guitar for the Western Massachusetts chamber-pop outfit Winterpills (who also call Signature Sounds home) when not writing his own songs or fronting the indie-rock outfit Spanish for Hitchhiking, has a lot to say on the subject, and he says it with elegant, understated eloquence. As ruminative as much of this is — the gorgeously glistening opener, “Bright Light of the Cape,’’ sets a tone that is sustained throughout — the album rocks with easy authority too (the Son Volt-esque meat-and-potatoes swagger of “New Year’s Resolution’’ is a highlight, as is the galvanizing gallop of “Dark Gray Horses’’). Inspired in both title and content by Mari Sandoz’s book “These Were the Sioux,’’ “Buffalo Surround’’ is a finely wrought collection that sets Crommett’s unvarnished voice and conversational guitar against a supple instrumental backdrop provided by some of the area’s finest players (including roots music granddaddy Ray Mason on bass). The backwoods of Maine make for an emotional, as well as physical, landscape on “Rocks of Deer Isle, and the song simply glows — like a lantern throwing soft light on a clearing in the forest. (Out Tuesday)
Dennis Crommett plays a CD-release show April 8 at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton; visit www.denniscrommett.com for details.