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Posted on July 31st, 2012 (10:36 am) by Jackson Mathews

Sometimes a tad more perfect than folk music should be, Sonnet Cottage’s debut album Another Time shines brightly at some moments and treads awkwardly through others.

Sonnet Cottage technically consists of singing sisters Rachel and Torey Russell and pianist/composer Kent Heckaman, though credit should also be given to the slew of studio musicians fleshing out the arrangements. Formed in 2010, Sonnet Cottage sets out to create peaceful, fun and contemplative alt-folk music, supporting a number of environmental causes in the process. For the most part they have succeeded. Heckaman has been writing songs and producing for other artists for quite some time. Some of his previous instrumental work makes an appearance on (piano piece “As The Story Unfolds” gains new life with vocal accompaniment under the name “Waterfront Park”). Rachel and Torey each posses delicate voices, but when in harmony their voices take on an even greater dream like quality, especially on “Letting It All Go.” -

In addition to composing the music, Heckaman serves as the primary songwriter for Sonnet Cottage’s material. Another Time’s most effective tracks employ a show-don’t-tell approach. Rather than addressing an issue directly “Waterfront Park” and “The Caretaker” draw your attention to the little details, like coffee stains on a homeless man’s shirt or missing seasons in an old woman’s memory. Other tracks, such as “Root Beer Stand In Afghanistan” and “Most Unlikely” occasionally force rhymes or use other awkward tactics to get their point across. “Little Did I Know” manages to convey a message of environmental ignorance bluntly yet with enough finesse to compliment its elegant arrangement.

Whatever flaws Another Time has seem insignificant when compared against “The Caretaker.” This simple folk melody accompanied by rainfall slowly grows into a gentle, beautiful waltz. The track feels light and graceful, joyous and calm. Until of course you realize the song is written from the perspective of someone with Alzheimer’s. Then the song makes sense, and the emotion hits you like a ton of bricks. Most impressively, “The Caretaker” contains no trace of pretention or stiffness, and the lyrics move as gracefully as the music.

For the time being, Sonnet Cottage sounds more like another Heckaman endeavor than a cohesive group. The perfectionism of the arrangements and use of an army of studio musicians make Sonnet Cottage sound more rich than most three-member groups. Heckaman has once again demonstrated his compositional skill, but his work as a lyricist can be hit or miss; when Heckaman hits, though, he hits hard. They have already created peaceful, beautiful music, but if Sonnet Cottage can find the organic connection that all folk music requires they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Track List
1. Letting It All Go
2. Most Unlikely
3. Another Time
4. Root Beer Stand In Afghanistan
5. Waiting For Summer
6. Waterfront Park
7. Trail Of The Wind
8. Little Did I Know
9. The Caretaker
10. Pete’s Last Cigar

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

72 / 100
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