In a year that saw gentle, folksy roots-rock championed in the form of Fleet Foxes among others, it’s easy to forget that this wasn’t a resurgence so much as an acknowledgment of this influence’s continued relevancy. Juniper Tar taps into some of the same Americana, but with an ear toward crunchy dynamics and extended song structures. The lion’s share of the songs run longer than five minutes, with a few practically coming across as mini-epics.
Still, this tendency toward the grandiose in both volume and song length doesn’t take away a bit from the nuance in the quiet moments and the pretty vocal harmonies. As I mentioned in this earlier post on the band, two obvious comparison points are Uncle Tupelo (mostly in the dynamics - think “Whiskey Bottle” or “Sauget Wind”) and Amnesia-era Whiskeytown (in the vocals, which curiously sound a bit like early Ryan Adams, heavy on the world-weariness and smoothed-out rasp, but little like current Ryan Adams, radio-polished and quick to jump to falsetto).
But Juniper Tar emphasizes the ethereal and cinematic far more than either of those bands; they don’t seem content to be just an Americana band. If this is just another iteration of Gram Parson’s “cosmic American music,” it leans toward the cosmic side. Considering the number of other, better-known artists operating in roughly the same backwoods as these guys, it’s impressive how different Juniper Tar manages to sound. - Hey, There's a Bird in This Mirror (Dec. 2008)