Dave Howell Special to The Morning Call
“The Barn Swallows”
This is a CD for a nice day, or when you wish that it was. The Barn Swallows is an upbeat duo playing light and breezy old-time music, despite an occasional song about hurt like “You Haven’t Got a Heart.”
That is not to say the group is bland. This self- titled CD has fine playing and especially good, all original songwriting. There are interesting melodies here, not just three-chord toss offs that sound borrowed from other albums.
Most of the themes are traditional, as you can tell by titles like “Across the Alleghenies,” “Dear John,” and “Get Me out of Texas.” The lyrics are a bit deeper, though. “Just Another Train Song” is not as ordinary as it sounds, since it is about someone almost killed by a train. The songs are wordier than typical country tunes, but meaningful and never pretentious.
There is a bit of humor, too. “Maybelle” is dedicated to an unfriendly dog, abandoned by an untrue wife who left to join the circus. And “Won’t You Please Be My Ringtone?” is a self explanatory modernization.
The Barn Swallows features Sandy Pluta and Matthew Gordon. Both sing and play guitar, with Pluta on resonator guitar and Gordon on mandolin and harmonica. Paul Pluta is on upright bass, with others playing occasional accordion, violin, and percussion.
The two fill out the sound well without any apparent double tracking of their instruments. Pluta is a virtuoso on Dobro, and they mix their guitar parts seamlessly.
Pluta’s plaintive, almost girlish voice and Gordon’s low-key delivery fit right into their Appalachian sound. This is a CD that brings an older country feel into today’s world, with expert production and string work.
Friday: Ocean Earth Wind Fire, sanctuary for yoga, massage & whole living, 122 Bridge St., Phoenixville
Saturday: Frecon’s Hard Bean Cafe, 128 E. Philadelphia Ave., Boyertown.
May 13: Half Moon Cafe, Clay On Main, 313 Main St., Olay
More info: www.thebarnswallows.com