Fans of acoustic folk rock should check out North & Prospect, the newest album from The Sweet Remains, a collaboration of three singer-songwriters who are equally at home with singing lead as they are in joining together in elegant three-part harmonies and dynamic overlapping vocals. Rich Price, Greg Naughton, and Brian Chartrand put the trio together after meeting at a jam session in 2007 and released their well-received first album, Laurel & Sunset, in 2009. This was followed in 2011 with a DVD/CD set, Live at The Canal Room, recorded at the final performance of their two-year gig at the New York City club. You can get a good idea of the band’s signature sound from the video of “Dance With Me,” perhaps the trio’s best known song, from the live album. It is a performance that shows off the band at its melodic best.
And the tunes on the new album are just as good. These are melodies that will get in your ear and stay there. From the very first of the 14 mostly original songs on the album, “Been Too Good,” they mine an infectious groove that echoes the iconic folk rockers of the past. Think three James Taylors, or more obviously Crosby, Stills and Nash. Not that they don’t add a few modern touches of their own. The creative combination of harmonies and dissonances on “The River Hymn” give the song an exciting contemporary flavor. More to the point, they do an edgy cover of The Beatles' “Come Together” that reimagines the song for a new day. It’s like nothing you’ve heard before. You have to admire their chutzpah, taking a chance working over such a revered song so completely. On the other hand, taking big chances can garner big rewards and this is one great cover.
Singling out highlights on the album is difficult. It is an album filled with highlights. “Red Brick Moon,” “Don’t Look Close,” “The Moment,” there’s no point in going on. This is not an album where you’ll want to buy one or two songs from iTunes. If you like sweet blending harmonies, catchy melodies, and a distinctive sound, you’ll want them all. Best thing you can do is listen to some of samples on the The Sweet Remains website.
Joining the trio on different tracks are Joe Deveau on keys, Clint Bierman on electric guitar, banjo and mandolin, Peter Day on bass, and Sean Preece, Brad Wentworth, Mike Florio and others on drums, as well as a four-piece string section and an assortment of other instrumentalists.