“And it’s a line drive down the first baseline!,” cries seasoned announcer Phil Rizzuto on a hot July afternoon in the Bronx in 1973. The star hitter of the time, probably Thurman Munson or Bobby Murcer, dashes towards the dusty base bag and the awaiting first baseman of the Detroit Tigers or the Baltimore Orioles or whatever team the venerable New York Yankees are taking on.
Now in April 2017, from New Haven, Connecticut, comes Jon Schlesinger with his song-sketching, woodshedding combo No Line North and their 5-track Dreams of Trees Part 1. Opener “Line Drive” recalls – in title – any given baseball moment like that one above, and recalls in sound the forward-moving drum dash and dazzling guitar layers of another venerable New York (well, New Jersey) team, The Feelies. The song stands on its own though, thanks to the added ingredient of violin…and during its seven-plus minutes seems to promise more of the same on the remainder of the record.
Those hopes are dashed, however, as “Butterflies” kicks in with a more…comfy rhythm, equally comfy violin, and singer Lys Guillorn’s comfy, Clapton-esque vocals and comfy lyrics about the sun rising, wind blowing, and butterflies floating. We’re talking country-rock now, ok. Then the waltzy “Sky & Sea” skips in – and there’s that violin again, swirling around with the guitars, bass, and voices. Heading down folk-pop street now, are we? Hold it right there, savvy (I don’t know where that phrase originated – not Phil Rizzuto as far as I know – but someone I knew in college always used to say it)…anyway, hold it right there because “Under The Sun” has begun, and it’s hoedown time! After that we’re all plum-tuckered-out so…enter closing track “Sugar Baby” with its ethereal vibraphone and Fleetwood Mac-ish feel.
No Line North currently consists of Jon Schlesinger (vocals, guitar, banjo), John Gage (drums, vibraphone, percussion), Lys Guillorn (vocals), Mike Kiefer (drums), John Leonard (bass, guitar, vocals, percussion), and Brian Slattery (violin). They play “good music for the people” (according to the band’s website) and have released two albums so far on the Twin Lakes label: Closely Watched Trains in 2009 and Farther Out Beyond Today in 2014. Dreams of Trees Part 1 is the first half of their latest and is due out April 28.
And…holy cow, safe at first!
images courtesy stuffnobodycaresabout.com, nolinenorth.bandcamp.com, courant.com