Pretty Girl From Michigan
Label: RRE, LLC / Republic
These hard-touring alt-folk sensations are in fine, appropriately workmanlike form on The Carpenter, mixing sweet sensitive-bro balladry with just the hint of a hard-rock snarl (see "Paul Newman vs. the Demons," in which the victor is left ambiguous). There's a totally ripping banjo solo on "Live and Die," lovely horns on "Down with the Shine" and some splendid string-section action on the aching, expertly harmonized closer, "Life." But at a brisk 1:37, the sweetly rollicking "Geraldine" almost walks away with this thing. Bet it kills live.