Its title notwithstanding, there isn't much in the way of banjos or sunshine on this Maryland quintet's debut album. No matter. The acoustic and electric guitars resonate with plenty of twang and even some of the darkest songs contribute to the album's brightest moments.
"My songs all sound the same so I bought a new guitar . . . no matter how I write I'm always a victim of circumstance," sings frontman Matt Felch on one of the album's best tunes, the clever and catchy "My Car." He's got a point too, since the combination of his alt-country tenor, his obvious affection for Bob Dylan and Neil Young, and his habit of ending up the fall guy constitutes one of the album's common threads. Yet Felch is too smart a songwriter to let that become a big problem. As long as he's composing lines like the following, taken from the cautionary tale "ATF," there isn't much chance of his songs blurring together: "Alcohol, tobacco and firearms won't keep you safe at night/ Mace, the Club and the car alarm don't make everything all right/ 'cause some things you can't protect/ some things were meant to be stolen/ some words better left unsaid/ forever not for a moment."
While it would be nice to hear lead guitarist Mark McCay break out of the resonating mix more often, nearly all of the songs rise or fall on the strengths of Felch's wry lyrics and deadpan delivery. And so far so good. As Felch himself puts it on "House of Cards," "You don't fix what ain't broken and don't mess with the master plan."
Appearing Thursday at Chief Ike's Mambo Room. To hear a free Sound Bite from Sixty Acres, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8107. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)