Emphasizing the “rock” half of the roots-rock tag, Tim Easton’s Porcupine is an appropriately prickly record that is an about-face from the more restrained but still compelling and distinctive Americana style of his previous four albums. While 2006’s Ammunition demonstrated that Easton could pull off a laid-back, mid-period Bob Dylan folk vibe better than most of his contemporaries, the rawness of Brad Jones’s and Robin Eaton’s production here is a better fit with Easton’s needle-sharp songwriting and his ragged voice, making for his most aesthetically mature album to date. Easton sounds so natural on the choppy, syncopated title cut and opener “Burgundy Red,” which rides along a rhythm track that recalls Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On),” that one wonders why he hasn’t explored a harder-edged sound before. Even better are “Broke My Heart,” which sounds like a long-lost Replacements single, and “Baltimore,” a country-inflected sing-along on which Easton adopts the point of view of a serial killer. There’s also a strong vintage blues influence running throughout the record, giving a real punch to riotous numbers like “Stormy” and “Get What I Got” while also giving shape to the ballads, the best of which is the album-closing “Goodbye Amsterdam,” making for a stylistically cohesive project and Easton’s most fully-realized album to date.
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