Twenty-two years ago a little known Canadian band – the Cowboy Junkies – produced a hauntingly economical album, The Trinity Session, in a church using one microphone. And now, Athens, Ga., quintet Venice Is Sinking replicates the same approach and feel: The similarly stunning result is the group’s third outing, Sand & Lines.

This live-in-the-studio project was recorded in late Spring 2008 with two microphones and single takes recorded over four nights at the now fire-ravaged Georgia Theatre. The 10 tracks have a murmuring alt-country reserve that provides a somnambulistic primacy. Originals such as violin-immersed “The Grey Line” and standout “Falls City” are low-pressurized affairs that echo the Velvet Underground’s subtler aural washes, Low’s taciturn qualities and, yes, the Cowboy Junkies narco-pop. An apt cover of Galaxie 500’s “Tugboat,” an opiated interpretation of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and a whispery rendition of Waylon Jennings’ hit “The Wurlitzer Prize” fit right in.

Grade: B



Sand & Lines is currently available.