Incoming: New Michael Rank & Stag

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Erstwhile Snatches of Pink frontman joined by Mount Moriah’s Heather McEntire and other talented Tarheels.

By Barbi Martinez, Blurt Intern

We’ve sung the praises of NC’s Michael Rank here at BLURT a number of times in the past, following with interest his evolution from punk-garage rebel as the guitarist and vocalist for Chapel Hill’s Snatches of Pink into an Americana- and country-rock-tilting songwriter of estimable gifts, billing himself as Michael Rank & Stag.

Writing about his solo debut Kin in 2012, for example, editor Mills observed, [It has] more vital body fluids spilling from these grooves than Shoot Out The Lights and Blood On The Tracks combined, As classic breakup albums go, Kin is more than just effective – it’s utterly inspiring.” Meanwhile, 2013’s Mermaids found contributor Michael Toland suggesting that Rank was fully hitting his stride, writing,” Still drawing on a deep well of heartbreak (nothing like a divorce to get the muse in gear, apparently), Rank pours out his emotions into eleven songs that draw you in with quiet confidence, rather than the brash volume of his former band.”

You could call us fans, in other words. Now due on Sept. 22 is Horsehair, Rank’s fifth album in just three years (he also released In the Weeds in 2013 and Deadstock in 2014), and we are advised that it features a who’s who of top North Carolina talent, among them Mount Moriah’s Heather McEntire on vocals along with members of Chatham County Line, Old Ceremony, Two Dollar Pistols, Tres Chicas, Phil Cook’s Guitarheels and others.

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Notes Rank, “I’ve always written all my songs on acoustic guitar. Always – even back in my volume and tantrum days with Snatches of Pink. It cuts through all the bullshit and all the masking and quickly gets right to the essence. My challenge in presenting and mixing these recent albums of mine is how to incorporate all these gorgeous fiddle and mandolin and pedal steel and organ performances throughout the albums while still staying true to that original bare and naked song. It’s like trying to have the best of all worlds.”

In that, he succeeds, and we are expecting no less from Horsehair. As the saying goes—stay tuned. Below, watch a video of a key track from Mermaids.

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