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Rhythm & Views

Carbon Leaf

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There's much that's reassuring and comforting about the music of Virginia-based band Carbon Leaf: the breezy combination of electric and acoustic guitars; the danceable rock rhythms; the sweet, mandolin-inflected pop; the actually tuneful, wide-eyed vocals of low-key frontman Barry Privett.

As evidenced on its sixth album, Indian Summer, Carbon Leaf plays gentle pop-rock for 30-something traditionalists who no longer need to be shocked or threatened by music, who tend to ponder a well-phrased, introspective lyric as they might a modest California wine.

Carbon Leaf also happens to be the sort of band that inspires intense fealty among its network of fans who follow the group religiously, report back on its album's availability in certain chains, fill message boards and generally share the love.

Much has been written about Carbon Leaf's "Celtic" influence. Granted, nestled among the rock instruments are mandolins, bouzouki and penny whistle, and tracks such as "This Is My Song!" and "Changeless" feature intricate, sprightly melodies that could be played on bagpipes or accordion.

But this album most resembles the result of a collision between an earnest 1970s singer-songwriter, '80s alternative-rock conventions, reflective folk formulas, today's adult alternative music and the disarming attitude of a loose and friendly jam band. It's a good thing.

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