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The Daily Tar Heel

Music Review: Mipso Trio

There’s been growth in recent years in the popularity of bands like The Avett Brothers, which straddles the line between folkish authenticity and mainstream appeal. And then there are bands like Mumford & Sons, which doesn’t seem to realize that you need more than the mere presence of a banjo to grant you deep-rooted Americana legend status.

Luckily for Chapel Hill’s Mipso Trio, the band’s debut EP is rooted in both instrumentation as well as deceptively mature songwriting. Yes, Mipso Trio has interesting acoustic instruments like a mandolin, and the band actually wants to do something with it.

The album is contemplative and gentle — even fast-paced songs are padded with softly sung harmonies and delicate instrumentation.

In the style of traditional bluegrass bands, Mipso Trio adeptly trades lyrics for bass, mandolin and guitar leads. The picking strains in parts, and it makes one wonder where this album could go with a few more takes.

Listeners used to the likes of legends Doc Watson and Bill Monroe might clench their teeth at the sometimes-inconsistent tempo, but these young musicians have the right idea.

There’s a startlingly witty and humorous angle to the record. On the plucky “Wait 4 Me,” guitarist Joseph Terrell easily rattles off, “A baker has 12 cupcakes and a feline has nine lives / Judgment Day, Four Horsemen and a Mormon man, three wives.”

The slow, reflective “He’ll” has Terrell making the best of the Devil saving him a seat at a metaphorical bar in Hell — he “hears the peanuts are free.”

“Winding River” is a perfect record-closer, giving you one last reminder of Mipso Trio’s strengths in its composition and lyricism. The most musically arresting of the six tracks, Terrell’s guitar and Jacob Sharp’s mandolin blend beautifully.

Combined with Sharp’s soft singing that easily swings into falsetto range, by the end, somehow Mipso Trio seems like an old hand at this music-making business, to which the band is decidedly new.

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