Near the start of The Pinkerton Raid’s fourth full-length album, Where the Wildest Spirits Fly, songwriter Jesse James DeConto asks, “Where’s the star to lead us home?” Amid landscapes pigmented with pain, the question is a quest for meaning, in resistance to Camus’ absurdity and the Will-to-Power in the White House. And the answer, over and over again, in a repeating cycle of realistic truth-telling and undeterred hope, is simply this: We sing together.
For nearly three years, Jesse and other band members have been leading barroom sing-alongs back home in North Carolina, gravitating toward the songs that have soundtracked social movements since the 1940s: Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” Traci Chapman’s “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution,” and countless songs by Dylan, Guthrie and Seeger. Rather than chasing a particular sound, Jesse worked with producer David Wimbish (The Collection) and engineer Jeff Crawford (Skylar Gudasz) at Arbor Ridge Studios to serve the original but classic-sounding melodies and invite the listener to sing along. Drummer Scott McFarlane, bassist Jon DePue, saxophonist Tony Sali and guitarist Steven DeConto form the core of the band, and the new recordings captured the sing-along vibe with a choir joining in on the catchy choruses.
The Pinkerton Raid has shared stages with The Soil & the Sun, The Ballroom Thieves, Annabelle's Curse, Forlorn Strangers, Lobo Marino, Lowland Hum, Noah Gundersen and Denison Witmer. The release of Tolerance Ends, Love Begins in 2017 brought the band from Durham to Chicago to Washington DC, with slots at the Festival for the Eno and Shakori Hills, a session at Daytrotter and critical acclaim from Paste, No Depression, Popdose, Aquarian Weekly and more.
The title of the new album is a lyric from the song “Thin Places,” conjuring the Celtic idea of an earth charged with spirit. These songs were shaped by wanderings from the South to the Midwest to northern New England, and the band will bring them back on the road in 2018, in search of more thin places.