The Hill or the Climb (2014)

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MAGNOLIA SUMMER
THE HILL OR THE CLIMB
Release date: January 14, 2014
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1.  The Hill Or The Climb
2.  Needles and Pins
3.  One Step Forward
4.  Bend To Break (Moving On)
5.  Slow To A Crawl
6. Ulysses Contract
7. Faulty Designs
8.  Yesterday Was A Blur
9.  No One Talks About It Anymore
10.  Undistinguished Days

Despite its ever-shifting roster, Magnolia Summer has been a staple of the St. Louis Americana scene for the past decade or so, having released four albums and a pair of digital EPs. This latest effort, The Hill or the Climb, comes courtesy of the band’s sole staple, singer/songwriter Chris Grabau, and a pick-up band consisting of Bottle Rockets guitarist John Horton, bassist Greg Lamb and drummer John Baldus, along with others who assist as necessary. Despite Grabau’s insistence that this is the band’s so-called “rock album,” it still holds to the band’s basic MO, one flush with hushed harmonies and an easy country rock sway. “Needles and Pins,” “Slow to a Crawl” and “No One Talks About It Anymore” are ideal examples, further affirming Magnolia Summer’s seductive suggestion. Grabau’s vision of a harder edge is manifest only occasionally – mainly on the upbeat “Yesterday Was a Blur” and in the heavy stomp of “Ulysses Contract” – but it’s all dreamy desire that sandwiches the set – manifest in the songs “The Hill or the Climb” and “Undistinguished Days” –- that provides those paler shades in bolder contrast. – Lee Zimmerman, Blurt