With a barn house overlooking an overgrown field of green vegetation on the album cover, Stillhouse Hollow seems like the kind of country-tinged indie band trying to reconcile a small town upbringing with the demands of pop culture. While Dakota evokes feelings of a slower lifestyle on the farm, for an Angeleno driving down the streets of downtown, it feels contrived. It’s got playful but soulless lyrics sung with minimal feeling over distinctly folk instrumentals.

The only things that save this album from becoming my newest coffee table coaster are that, a) this guy can sing and b) the harmonica (and occasionally the banjo) is played with an intensity that is positively inspired. The album’s offerings are too frenetic, offering the ridiculous “Pimp Hand” (where the singer advises you to “Try to keep your pimp hand strong”) next to a song like “Can’t Take My Love” that sounds like it was originally played on “American Bandstand.” Dakota is interesting in parts, but on the whole doesn’t make much sense as an album.

Grade: B-

Dakota is currently available.