You sure wouldn't know from listening to them that Yarn hails from Brooklyn, New York. Their countrified roots rock sounds more at home in a grange than in a hip downtown loft. But geography aside, on Empty Pockets Yarn creates exciting and authentic music that will move you regardless of your spot on a GPS locator.
Yarn formed in 2006. It evolved out of guitarist and lead vocalist's Blake Christiana's previous electric jam band, Blake & the Family Dog. By 2007 Yarn's first album had reached #14 on the American Music Associations Top 40 chart. This five piece band features Christiana along with Trevor MacArthur on guitar and vocals, Andrew Hendryx on mandolin and harmonica, Rick Bugel on bass, and Jay Frederick on drums and percussion. Cameos by Eddie Brickell on vocals, Casey Driessen on fiddle, and Tony Trishka on banjo add an extra dash of virtuosic fire to the proceedings, but Yarn's chops are more than adequate to keep up with even these acoustic superstars. Yarn's regular gigs in New York City's landmark clubs including Kenny's Castaways and Hill Country certainly honed them into a tight ensemble. Mandolin fans will especially enjoy Andrew Hendryx's innovative mix of older tremolo techniques with modern single string solos.
All the songs on Empty Pockets were written or co-written by Blake Christiana. Many of his songs, such as the title number, remind me of Gram Parsons' best work. Christiana's melodies share Parson's lyrical quality as well as a similar preoccupation with intoxication and the regrets that go along with an alcoholic lifestyle. "I've Already Won" gets as close to a love song as you'll find on the album; it's about divorce. Despite a plethora of dark subject matter, Empty Pockets has an almost jaunty overall feeling because most of the songs have beautiful melodies and upbeat rhythms. I'd call Yarn's music happy/sad. According to Christiana, "We're not trying to say anything too deep…we mean to entertain people." And if your tastes lean toward classic honky-tonk country tempered with a dash of contemporary urban angst, then Yarn should hit the spot.