Three Quarter North – Back Home

by Janet Goodman

three-quarter-north_back-homeThree Quarter North borrowed its moniker from a Leo Kottke song “because it sounded vaguely somewhere between folk and bluegrass,” says band member Jim Atkins in a 2011 interview with Schenectady’s Daily Gazette. That’s exactly where this upstate New York gaggle of veteran musicians’ music sits on their 11-song sophomore release, “Back Home.” Recorded in hometown-area Delmar, New York and produced by members Dave Rhodes and Mark E. Smith, this acoustic collection features originals by Rhodes, Smith and Atkins plus one Irish traditional.

TQN revs up the fun right out of the gate with “Old Boys” – a look back at their own unwillingness to give up the music just because of their age. Smith’s friendly tenor, backed by warm harmonies, gently leads the way on the title track and folk offerings “Give Yourself To Me” and “Another Year,” while instrumentals are the band’s “let ‘er loose” moments on “Pony Expresso,” Dirty Old Rag” and “Star of Munster.”

A radio evangelist’s preaching falls on the singer’s deaf ears on the hoot “Judgement Day,” and the topical subject of Wall Street “handouts” provides fertile fodder for “Too Big To Fail,” a kind of tune that seems to write itself – a sign of solid craftsmanship: “If you screw up, the check is in the mail/…There ain’t no chance you’re goin’ to jail/Uncle Sam’s gonna pay your bail/When you’re too big to fail.”

Growing old is a theme TQN likes to explore, but their roots blend is as timeless as their nearby beloved Hudson.

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