Chicago's Americana-bleached collective the Pinetop Seven have been quietly writing some of America's finest traditionally influenced material for a decade. Beneath Confederate Lake is a collection of previously unreleased songs, including outtakes from 2005's The Night's Bloom , soundtrack work, miscellaneous audio mementos and a timely Tom T. Hall cover.

Usually a gathering of vagabond tunes wouldn't mean much, but Beneath has a cohesive connotation due to a compelling, somewhat dark tonality (sample song title: “Two Dead Men in a Vermont Graveyard”) as well as resourceful roots. Opener “High on a Summer's Tree” has a bohemian resonance, instrumental “Canteen” has a Sergio Leone feel, and curious instrumental “Fadograph of a Yestern Scene” melds saloon piano trills with a tango-flecked melody.

The thematic hub, though, is Tom T. Hall's 1972 elegy against war and broken trust, “The Promise and the Dream,” an ardent plea for relief that asks, “America, what happened to you and me?”

Grade: A-