PigPen Theatre Co.: Whole Sun
After a three-year absence from the studio, PigPen Theatre Co., a unique seven-member collective that is both a band and a theater company, return with their second effort, Whole Sun. The result is a soulful folk-rock record that manages to breathe fresh air into the otherwise oversaturated Americana genre. There are the requisite acoustic guitars and banjos, but the tunes are more inspired and captivating than your usual unplugged fare. “Choir,” the leadoff track, begins as a rootsy romp and ends with “choir”-like harmonizing that reaches dazzling heights. “We Won’t” moves the proceedings in a jauntier direction, with whirling keys and steady tambourine bangs driving the energetic melody. It’s not surprising that PigPen performed at one of Mumford & Sons’ Gentlemen of the Road stopovers, as some of the best elements of that band can be found here (and lead singer Ryan Melia has a similar drawl to Marcus Mumford). Closer “Weathervane” proves that the group has ample storytelling prowess, and the final, triumphant refrains will leave the listener delighted.