By Brian Tucker
On the shelf a few years, singer-songwriter Andy Bilinski’s latest album Snow’s Cut Park is now available via digital outlets and as physical copies. Given the energy and introspection across ten songs its sad this collection of stark and sweet songs has been unavailable stateside due to record label shenanigans.
Conversely, the story behind the album’s germination it’s all the more appropriate the material finally has a home. Written and conceived while Bilinski was living out of his car and on a boat at a park near Carolina Beach, the album is a combination of hazy, tender songs and bouncing, electric ones (like album opener “Jukebox”). It’s only been available in Europe where Bilinksi tours frequently. He has a few albums under his belt, the last being 2012’s The Dogwood Sessions, a spare, much more intimate sounding album than this fully realized collection of material.
Surrounding the singer’s hushed whisper and anything-but-yelling louder voice is a tapestry of music. It’s different song to song, whether laced with fat horns on “Sweet B’ or gentle harmonica on “Pearl.” Sonically, Snows Cut Park is a dusk to dawn album, where is sunshine buried and always hours away. It’s really a vinyl record, one you sit and listen to then get up to hear the second half and sit back down.
Bilinksi’s sincere songwriting is awash in elegantly transient musicianship. A soft parade of varied playing on the album makes it more likeable and enticing, especially on the spare “Blackbook.” Songs smartly move back and forth between bouncy, jangly rockers (“Sweet B,” “Live Free”) and somber, careful ones (“Pearl,” “Salome”). “Jukebox” is a great song, radio-ready, and catchy as an alt-country meets 90s alt-rocker. But Bilinski seems more at ease and at home with tender material, like sweet and sour “Blackbook” or “Red Plastic Harp” with its prominent vocals and sighing slide guitar.
Snow’s Cut Park could easily be seen/heard as a record made in the 90s and much less in the present. It has a broken heart on the sleeve vulnerability. That quality gives it a timeless persona, notably on haunting mid-range rocker “Live Free.” The album’s theme is about a lack of stability of having a home. It bleeds through, songs unfurling like memories of homes and environments. For every good time like “Jukebox” there’s a ghost around the corner, like “Lola.”
There’s little that’s pushy or slick about the album. Its songs and music are about earnestness. The gift is the album delivers them as individuals and ends with the pulsing and restrained theatricality of “Let Go of Everything.” Dusted off, and beginning to end, it’s a great album. But being alone for a few years begs the question of what’s waiting on Bilinski’s new album due this year.
full album playlist: