By Hal Horowitz
The multi-talented Pinkston turns in a set every bit as enticing, organic and charming as his first.
1. Roses & Poppies
2. Baby, I'm Still Right Here (With You) (feat. Nikki Lane)
3. Where We Have To Stay
4. No Rain, No Flowers
5. Moving On (Without You)
6. Who's Laughing Now? (feat. Teddy and The Rough Riders)
7. You Know Who
8. Someone You Can't Move
9. Time's Standing Still
10. Rich Rudy
11. Stoned & Alone
Those who grumbled that the 70s glory days of young bands instilling a jolt into classic country were in the rearview mirror rejoiced when The Pink Stones’ 2021 debut appeared.
That’s not to imply there are no other acts currently working the genre with the same sincerity and roots heavy approach this Athens, GA outfit prides itself on. Charlie Crockett, Joshua Hedley and Nikki Lane (who guests here) are just a few aiming for a comparable musical head space.
But these Stones roll with the same surly twang and honky-tonking attitude that made the likes of The Flying Burritos and early Poco sound so fresh. They dipped into the unadulterated dusky barroom reverberations of artists like Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard.
Any country fan coming of age a decade later, in the mid-80s, when Dwight Yoakam emerged seemingly out of nowhere to tap into that rural, rustic hillbilly vibe, will experience the same euphoria when hearing The Pink Stones.
Those that embraced the impressive throwback of the appropriately titled Introducing…The Pink Stones will do the same with the similarly styled You Know Who. Even the cover art, with its puffy R. Crumb-esque lettering, brings a retro feel to a band that proudly marinates in their “cosmic American music”.
Little has changed with the Hunter Pinkston-fronted sextet. Even when the title track injects hints of reggae and some wah-wah guitar to its Tulsa styled lope, John Neff’s sultry pedal steel is front and centre in the mix. On the waltz-time ballad ‘No Rain, No Flowers’, Pinkston compares the end of a relationship to tending a garden, singing “When will the blooming begin’, with matter-of-fact disappointment.
Strains of the American Beauty-era Grateful Dead inform ‘Rich Rudy’, as the singer admonishes the titular character with “Rich Rudy always the same/ Lookin’ for someone to blame”. It could be a nod to America’s former president.
Further reinforcing 60s overtones, the laconic ‘Stoned and Alone’ infuses a drug induced groove familiar to anyone who owns a New Riders album. Only the spoken word that sits atop ‘Without You, With You’ is a misstep, albeit a minor one.
With a few subtle instrumental enhancements from bongos, Mellotron and, gasp, even synthesizer, the multi-talented Pinkston (credited with guitars, keyboards, sound effects and all vocals), turns in a set every bit as enticing, organic and charming as his first.
Fire up the lava lamp, black lights and your recreational substance of choice and dig in.
7.5 / 10
The Pink Stones' 2023 record, You Know Who, is released June 30, 2023 via Normaltown Records / New West Records.
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