Review by: JJ Sheffer for Tri State Indie – January 6, 2013
Vinegar Creek Constituency will celebrate the release of their third album with a show at Lancaster’s Chameleon Club on Friday, January 11.
Don’t Go Back in Time includes 14 heavily road-tested songs. Fans will be able to sing along to most of it on the first listen. The entire album was recorded live to 2-inch analog tape, with no edits or overdubs, effectively capturing the delightful, old-timey string-band hootenanny fervor and bluegrass-meets-vaudeville charm of their live performances.
Vinegar Creek hails from Lancaster County and has lead singer and guitarist Leo DiSanto at its helm. The five-piece ensemble also includes Jeff Bryson on mandolin, Pierre de Vitry on fiddle, Mark Rast on banjo and dobro, and Lemuel Burnett on upright bass. The entire group contributes to stellar vocal harmonies, with Bryson trading off with DiSanto for lead vocal duties on several tracks (the songs he wrote). This is a band full of expert musicians, and the album showcases everyone’s talent in equal measure.
It also showcases everyone’s songwriting prowess. DiSanto carries the bulk of that responsibility, but Bryson’s chops are highlighted on the sweet ramble of “What’s Left,” and “Gone” and the haunting “Shortest Way Down.” The track list is nicely balanced with the instrumental beauties “Banjo Valentine” and “Brad Lidge Breakdown,” written by de Vitry and Rast, respectively.
The album also includes “The Moon, A Silver Dime,” a song from DiSanto’s solo album of the same title. Here, with the full band, but all acoustic and without percussion, it becomes something wholly different, a testament to the distinction between a Vinegar Creek Constituency show, a Vinegar Creek duo (DiSanto and Bryson) show, and a DiSanto solo performance, though all three may include some of the same titles in their setlists.
They leave us with two farewell songs: “Goodnight One and All” and “Wild Winds of Misfortune,” which DiSanto wrote when fellow Lancaster County songwriter Steven Courtney challenged him to write an Irish drinking song.
The old-timey feeling toes the line but never quite overshadows Vinegar Creek Constituency’s fresh take on older styles. They maintain a perfect, deliberate balance between reverence and modernization. The title track may illustrate it best; it sounds like a song passed down from generation to generation, until you realize the lyrics make reference to Night of the Living Dead. It goes on to warn of the dangers of being wistful for what’s already gone: “You give away most / of your love to a ghost / when you long for the good old days.”
Above all else, Vinegar Creek Constituency are masterful storytellers, in the tradition of American folk and country, but they continue to defy classification. Don’t Go Back in Time is the best representation to date of their particular amalgamation of various musical styles.
The CD release show at the Chameleon starts at 8 p.m. on Friday and will feature two opening acts: The Heat Run (Philadelphia) and The Unusual Suspects (Lancaster). INFO & TICKETS HERE
To listen to track 4 “No Darlin’ One” from the album CLICK HERE