You can take the Brit out of Britain but you can't take Britain's folk music pedigree out of the Brit, as New Hampshire-based Tom Posner deftly proves on Hell between the lines. Seven songs of medieval instrumentation featuring acoustic guitar, mandolin, cello and Posner's eerie baritone-to-bass. His handle, The Way of the Dinosaur, is appropriate, as every song is reminiscent of a style that has since, you know, gone the way of the dinosaur (or knight errant) save for a few endangered species. Posner's songwriting recalls the more dreary, empathic, moments of artists such as Perry Leopold, Mark Fry, Bridget St. John and Spirogyra, not all of whom, incidentally, are British.
"Gone" begins the album with quick-tempo guitar playing that gives way to urgent breezes of mandolin. This is done while Posner gently croons "gone for a while" for a while before getting into lyrical content. Posner could just be reminding me he's run to the supermarket for all I care, I just want him to keep singing. His voice commands the track and draws you in fully. It's a great formula and one he repeats often, but he lets loose in later songs like "Lullaby" with chalkboard cello countering a meditative guitar piece. The closer, "You the color,” is the biggest test for Posner's talents. He's at his throatiest with his singing, doleful and most alone, while he alternates between barely heard guitar triplets and nervous strumming. "There is water in my life" he recalls, and for such a broad statement, it bares deep emotion.
Posner neatly sidesteps the pitfalls of his chosen style of music, sameness and effervescence, with clever string playing and lovely arpeggios. He lets his voice fall to the wayside on occasion in deference to his instruments, but you get the feeling that, for him, it's merely another instrument to cultivate an atmosphere of poetry. His lyrics are filled with ambition, in a Canterbury Tales sort of way. The only really weak moment on the album is "Ice Age.”Posner plans to move to Austin, Texas, later this year where he hopes to break into the music scene. If this record is any indication, he'll have little trouble doing so.
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