The Band Perry, "Pioneer" (Republic Nashville)
Like film director Tim Burton, the Band Perry puts an entertaining spin on the darker aspects of life and love. With their second album, "Pioneer," singer Kimberly Perry and her brothers Neil and Reid continue to blend sinister and innocent in deliciously fresh ways.
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The trio's new work highlights just how well-developed they've become as songwriters -- they're responsible for nine of the 12 songs -- and how inventive they can be with arrangements. They bring out the best in veteran producer Dann Huff, who does his best work here since helping Keith Urban create his distinctive sound.
Like Urban, The Band Perry use banjos and other string instruments to create a down-to-earth foundation on songs like the No. 1 country hit "Better Dig Two." They also like juxtaposing acoustic and electric elements, which adds texture to catchy tunes like the anthemic "I'm a Keeper" and the Cheap Trick-like "Night Gone Wasted" -- both co-written with another family group, The Henningsens.
Throughout, Kimberly Perry wields her smoky voice like a skilled actress, inhabiting each song to bring the lyrics alive. "Pioneer" is an artistic tour de force that furthers the potential shown on the group's award-winning 2010 debut.