Folk and bluegrass are best when politically and emotionally charged and lyrically poignant, or so much fun all you want to do is get in your car and drive with the windows down, screaming every song at the top of your lungs. Something Real, the second album from Asheville, N.C.'s Underhill Rose, almost hits both marks, but not quite. "They Got My Back" has a nice hometown sentiment, but the cutesy attempt at slang is a bit misplaced. "Unused to You" is reminiscent of The Civil Wars' "Poison and Wine" but lacks the gut-punch poetry. The predictability keeps it from ever attaining depth.
Eleanor Underhill has a killer voice. It's rich and potentially far-reaching, and the combination with Molly Rose's sweet lilt and the twangy vocals of University of Montana graduate Salley Williamson sounds as solid as you'd expect from a band that's been playing together since 2009. The musicianship is convincing, whether they're attempting old country in "Little House," blues in "I Wanna Love You" or folk in "Bare Little Rooms." The last song on the album, the plucky "End of 27," is full of clever lyrics rolled together with a delicious little trumpet.
Ultimately, each song is almost fulfilling. "Drive Me to Drinking," the grittiest song on the album, is the closest the band actually gets to feeling like something real.
Underhill Rose plays Monk's Bar Fri., Aug. 2, at 9 PM. Free.