There are about a million Carolina string bands out there in the Americana-sphere. Young, lightning-fast fingers picking or bowing four, six, eight, or twelve strings, with caramel-smooth lead vocals and seraphim-like harmonies.
This is not a bad thing…
As much as I love the variety of this type of band, I do enjoy hearing one that stands out among their brethren and sistren, and Chapel Hill based Mipso does just that.
I love the way that their instruments dance with each other, with one or another of them coming forward for a verse, then fading, to let another one have a go. The vocals are fun and accessible, with lots of stuff you don’t hear often in a roots tune.
Take “Red Eye to Raleigh” as an example (sorry, Mipso, this song should be titled, “Body with a Broken Heart”.)
The tune starts with a strummy acoustic guitar, with a slide resonator adding color. The bass comes in late in the first verse, and a mandolin boom-chuck and subtle fiddle join the crowd by the time the first chorus kicks in.
Or is that a chorus? More like an extended refrain. After another verse, a real chorus kicks in. I really like it when songwriters play with song structure in ways that draw the listener in.
This song is about a broken heart, and the dream of repairing the love that blew apart. Not an especially original idea, but the lyrical approach is.
“It feels against my nature, just put me in the zoo; I’m not a mammal that can handle getting over you”.
And when was the last time you heard something like “experimental laparoscopic cardiology” in a string band song?
This band is easy to listen to; there are a few other great tunes on their ReverbNation site. I’d recommend “A Couple Acres Greener”, and “Rocking Chair Blues” as well. Check them out at https://www.reverbnation.com/mipsomusic.
While the band does not mention it on ReverbNation, Mipso just released a new album this past April, called “Coming Down the Mountain”. You can hear some tracks and order it on their webpage, https://www.mipsomusic.com/