For former Carolina Chocolate Drops founding member Justin Robinson, it’s the intersection of various instruments, a bluegrass background and a bit of Gothic-sounding folk that makes it hard to define his latest endeavor of Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes. According to Facebook, the group dubs itself “frozen swamp music; post-Civil War hip-hop.”
On the group’s debut LP, Bones for Tinder, Robinson and his crew of multi-instrumentalists surge and swell through baroque folk songs that feel sharp and modern without feeling dated. From the upbeat opener “Neptune” to the darker songs on the latter half of the album, Robinson and the Mary Annettes produce a variety of takes on the roots genre it knows best.
Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes
Bones for Tinder
Dive Verdict: 4 of 5 stars
The track “Vultures” is full of delicious swells of a violin, viola and cello. The backing vocals give the song depth and the multi-faceted sound is a perfect blend of vintage and modern stylings.
It makes for a smooth transition into “Kissin’ and Cussin’,” a song from Robinson’s days with the Chocolate Drops. With the addition of eerie overlapping backing vocals, the song feels fuller, yet it’s still Robinson’s own gripping voice that entrances the listener.
It’s clear that Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes is willing to do some serious genre-bending, but they never stray too far from their roots-based tendencies. While one may be quick to call the Mary Annettes an extension of the Chocolate Drops, Robinson makes sure to draw from other influences (like a cover of The Kills’ “Gypsy Death and You”) and places Bones for Tinder in its own realm.
The album is a web of refined folk songs, variations on bluegrass and quirky foot-stomping jigs, and there’s no doubt that Robinson and his Mary Annettes are serious about having a good time.
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