Being the crossroads between folk, blues and country, the “roots” genre gives artists a wide catalog of tunes to cover. Not only that, but the genre lends itself to surprising cross-genre performances (Lissie provided a good example with her “Bad Romance”). Not surprising, then, that Mason Porter, a West Chester, PA-based roots/Americana quintet, chose to release an album of covers, Story of the Rifle, for their second long-player.
The album begins strongly with a laid-back version of Mississippi John Hurt’s “My Creole Belle.” Their easy, open arrangement recalls sitting outside around a campfire on a hot summer’s night, sounding deliciously impromptu. The frantic shuffle of The White Stripes’ “Hotel Yorba” shows how the band soars when on cross-genre interpretations. They infuse Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” with a fully realized regret that Dylan only hints at in his original.