Sometimes it’s jaw-dropping incredible how some ensembles can make music together so well. Witness the acoustic guitar-and-piano trio of guitarists Matt Szlachetka and Kane McGee and keyboard man Dave Basaraba, who offer this double-CD collection recorded in an intimate live setting. With full harmonies and all instruments meshing so well, it’s striking how they work with such precision yet project such a sense of freewheeling abandon.
Frequent comparisons to CSN&Y don’t describe fittingly the band’s delicate strength. You can hear Graham Nash’s touch in “Crawling Back To You” whereas “You Come Up Like A Rose” is countrysoulful like Richie Furay-era Poco. This leads appropriately into a moving cover of Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic.”
Szlachetka puts the strength and dynamics of an electric power-trio guitarist into his acoustic playing, letting loose on an impassioned lead riding out the penultimate bars of “Crawling.”
The ability to balance instrument with instrument to the beneﬁt of the overall sound itself is a signature character of the band. The Northstar Session has a knack for putting the pieces in the right places for maximum effect.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s December. ’13 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.