Lower 48: Where All Maps End

Lower 48
Where All Maps End
(Self-Released)

In 2009 Ben Braden and Sarah Parson aka folk duo The Lower 48 moved from Minneapolis to Portland, Ore to jump on the band wagon of the thriving neo-folk scene lead by groups like The Decemberists and Fleet Foxes.

Their debut EP Everywhere to Go had garnered critical praise in the Midwest fueling the fire to record the full length album, Where All Maps End. The 10-song collection was expertly recorded and produced by Chad Weiss who no doubt must be given credit for taking these very simply written compositions, which at times can be just a bit “too precious,” and elevating them to higher art.

By adding clever production effects and fine supporting instrumentation the sing along two chords ditties are transformed into something more mature and palatable. The foot stomping opening track “The End,” is radio ready and the wistful “Into the Woods,” has a subdued power. The group shines on the familiar sounding “Traveling Tune,” and “Come Awake.” However, the three “Interlude,” tracks feel like throw away filler.

Attention must be given to The Lower 48 for self-producing this ambitious project and taking the risk of jumping into the bigger pond.