By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
With each release, the Dive Poets refines its style of big-hearted, heartland rock & roll. The quintet released the digital single "Failing Manhattan"/"The End" earlier this year — and since that time, singer Eric Sargent has knocked some of the rust from his vocals while his bandmates have introduced steady rhythms and an easy sway. The Good & the Light (available November 2) is more of a four-song teaser than a discreet unit, and each song shows a different facet of the Dive Poets' marriage of modestly rocking Americana and sad-eyed barroom weepers.
The set begins and ends with a blast. Renato Durante's loose, clanging hi-hat introduces the sweetly ragged "I Still Miss Louise," and viola player/backing vocalist Anna Moffatt swoops in with strings and harmonies to give the tune a little lift. The closing track, "Austin," finds the band at its honky-tonkingest, with guitarist Karl Eggers' deft roadhouse picking pairing nicely with a relentless shuffle. The two intervening tracks are more introspective and melancholy. "Club 91" begins as a nearly too-saccharine character study but grounds itself with a gradual build and Moffatt's alternatingly lyrical and rhythmic viola work. More than any other track on this set, it's a song that rewards repeated listens. The limits of Sargent's wavering tenor voice get stretched a might too far on the dirge-like "Lord, Take Me Home," though once more the rest of the Poets' talents — Eggers' intuitive guitar work in particular — fill in the blanks. The EP draws an even split between twangy rock & roll and tender balladry, and that duality gives depth and range even across this brief set.— Christian Schaeffer
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