WDVX Blue Plate Special   ∙   Knoxville, TN   ∙   © Hallie Kohler Photography

WDVX Blue Plate Special  Knoxville, TN ∙ © Hallie Kohler Photography

ALEX LAVON  BRENDAN O'CONNOR  JOSEPH METTLER

     The boys of Rabbit in the Rye didn’t buy a campervan in 2012. It was a tan Dodge Fiesta from the late ‘80s and, to them, too costly. At that time they had yet to record any music, yet to play outside of their hometown for that matter, and so they decided instead to pool their money toward a five song EP, ‘Tabled Fables’. Since that fortuitous decision, the band has driven up and down the East Coast, gotten lost in Kentucky corn fields, collaborated with an ever growing list of artists, won a SAMMY award for Best New Artist, recorded two more albums and even scored a play in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The young trio is Joseph Mettler on guitars and harmonica, Alexander Lavon on electric and standup bass, and Brendan O’Connor on percussion and mandolin.

     Their most recent record and full-length debut, ‘Kindling’, is the culmination of over two years of touring and experimenting with a folk-roots sound. While it is a departure from their initial release, it is in many ways a return to their beginnings as musicians. This album features lead vocal performances by all three members of the group and the introduction of an upright bass.

   “Brooklyntown” and “Pine Bed” show the band’s reaches into folk and even traditional song books for inspiration, while songs like “Raging Glory” and “One Man Boxing Match” have near-linear compositions, weaving key changes and time signature shifts throughout. Although a full drum kit is notably absent from the recording, this does not detract from hard-hitting, heavily percussive tracks like “Shadow” and “Cold Flood.”

   The dynamic performances, construction of tension and passionate storytelling that defined their first two recordings remain. This time, however, it is presented on a slanted Americana backdrop, filtered through odd time signatures and a little bit of rye whiskey, all wrapped up in lush three part harmonies.