Ridge Runner (Outverse Collective)
It’s not the dedication to dressing like Appalachian moonshiners that makes being in The All-Togethers more complicated than the music suggests. That part, we’d imagine, is the perk of sticking to a period genre — getting to wear a driving cap or fedora without looking like a shit-ass. No, the trick is staying faithful to history. The music should be easy, uncomplicated and without hypermodern bells and whistles. Frontman Ken Osborne can’t bust out a face-melting Stratocaster solo for the same reason a Civil War reenactor can’t defeat the South with an Uzi. And because of that, the husband-and-wife duo-turned-trio has to draw inside some absurdly slim lines, ones that call for sparse, sometimes unnervingly uniform song structures and chord progressions. But what makes The All-Togethers’ sophomore effort so strong is how much they’ve done with so little. Ridge Runner is mountain gin incarnate, acoustically thick in the haunches and so clearly pored over, it’s less a collection of songs and more a clever equation for fitting a soundscape on an eraser head.