The ingenuity at work on the EP All Things With Symmetry by newcomer Pinewood involves a mixing of bluegrass, rock, folk and pop. As modern sounding as he can be, Pinewood, whose real name is Sam Kempe, tears down any walls and reveals that he’s a sincere wordsmith. His unique artistry is on full display in a four-song collection music lovers will find inspiring and thought-provoking.
At times Pinewood reminds me of the fragility and excitement of Borns. At other times, Pinewood’s delivery and music beds remind me of the inner turmoil and insecurity so often felt in the midst the night. The title track did this for me – his grayness comes through with sheer beauty. His lyrics, searching for truth, seem to wiggle their way into the listener’s psyche and unrelenting desires.
“Constellations” triggered that same reaction for me. There’s a denseness in his music, a guitar riff that could be heard on any back porch during the summer. Strumming along, meandering its way through cold, otherworldly sounds. Near the end of the song there’s an abrupt ending to a radio frequency sound. Then, a warm, sweet acoustic guitar plays as he sings I just think it’s time I took some time to play under the stars, how far away you are you now? As a listener, I felt like he tapped into the inner thoughts of everyone feeling disorganized or displaced in life. Now more than ever, it seems, a song like “Constellations” lets the listener know they are amongst a sea of people, yet only a speck in the universe. Pinewood’s intricate song sounds bigger than life, yet feels intimately secure. He’s enveloped is listeners into his own to whom it concerns letter.
Special nod to “Riverbank”, the EP’s first song. It immediately took me to the mindset of being outside, next to that water and in the forest. Pinewood doesn’t create the woodsy sound, rather it’s a roots-rock track. His lyrics, we have all that we need to breath, made me think of life in a small town, life on the fringes of society. I don’t think he meant this as being a homeless person, per se, but the song gave me chills thinking of the long days, the long road less fortunate people have when they don’t have shelter and they are literally living from the land. Mother Earth gives us so much, and yet, we destroy her with machines, pollution and meat production. Again, I don’t think this is the path Pinewood took in this song, but for some reason this music took me down that road.
The third track, “Onward” didn’t move me in the same way, but it sprinkled in this idea of moving forward in relationships and in life. I think what Pinewood is trying to convey in this song is that he only things important people in his life, not things.
Surprisingly, songs like “All Things With Symmetry” and “Constellations” don’t have a strong bass guitar component. I was expecting that after reading in his biography that after playing bass in bands in Athens, Georgia, he moved to start a solo career in Atlanta. He took on the daunting task of writing, producing, singing and playing all the instrumentation. I think he nailed it.