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on January 14, 2014
Railroad Earth has finally made an album that sounds very close to them live, minus the chatter and beer bottles clanging. The changes here from the last record is John Skehan plays less mandolin and quite a bit of piano on this album, and this album is self produced and is mixed like Railroad Earth should be. But the fiddle of Tim Carbone is still the engine that musically drives this band and he sounds energize playing a range of styles. The start of the record is somewhat typical RRE: "Chasin' a Rainbow" is a bluegrass inspired number; the title track is a heartwarming ballad of acceptance and the folkish "Grandfather Mountain" is a love song to the mountain itself. A Celtic lilt starts off "All That's Dead" before giving into instrumental delight that journeys a bit like a live jam written mostly by Skehan but never falters leading to "Face With a Whole" that could be on a progressive rock record. Of course the songs are very good; Todd Sheaffer knows how to write a song with meaning and heart. Andrew Altman song debut is "Sun Gets in Your Blood" and with lead singer Todd Sheaffer singing it doesn't just sound like a Railroad Earth song, the upbeat number sounds like a classic Railroad Earth song. On "Last Of the Outlaws" the band often takes a long form approach to the music instead of trying to shorten them into 4 minute made for radio songs although rock-pop songs like "Monkey" keeps the train on the track, while the mid tempo theme to their own "Hangtown Ball" shows the wry wit of Sheaffer who writes about fans dancing to an event that celebrates hangings from over 100 years ago. If you put the album on and let it go from start to finish then you'll hear a really good set of music by one of the great touring bands today that varies but is always Railroad Earth. Like a good set of Railroad Earth in the end it comes back the core instruments and a beautiful song - in this case "Take a Bow" that fades gently into universe making you wish the band was just on intermission and new set music was about to begin. I guess I'll just have hit play one more time.
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on January 24, 2014
It’s something of a truism that jam bands are more compelling live than they are in the studio – after all, The Grateful Dead made some fine albums, but Deadheads don’t collect hundreds of studio bootlegs. The truism is certainly true of Railroad Earth, whose bluegrass and Celtic folk influences otherwise set them well apart from their peers. I’ve had the opportunity to see them twice, and both times my experience has confirmed that their recorded output, with a handful of exceptions (“Old Man & the Land,” “Been Down This Road”), just doesn’t quite capture the joyous melange of styles and moods and the laid-back-yet-energetic improvisational flair that comes out so potently onstage.

This is still true of the band’s latest outing, Last of the Outlaws (2014), but to a lesser extent than many of their previous albums. This is in part due to the fact that, on said previous albums, songs tended to be more compact, basic themes on which RE would then elaborate onstage. But as mandolin player John Skehan explains in an interview with Glide Magazine: “In contrast to the last studio album, which was very much a production effort where the songs were already kind of done, set, and built from the ground up with drum and bass tracks… Last of the Outlaws… was more of a live setting and vibe.” The resultant music is more akin to the live set Elko than, say, Amen Corner, building expansive jams right into songs like the propulsive “When the Sun Get in Your Blood” or the outlaw compendium “Hangtown Ball.”

That live-in-the-studio aesthetic makes for a lengthy listen–70 minutes and change–that doesn’t always manage to conjure the band’s trademark concert spark: the downbeat title track drags, while “One More Night on the Road” is generic country-rock. The core of the record, however, is “All That’s Dead May Live Again”/”Face with a Hole,” and it doesn’t just spark – it burns. Incorporating plaintive Irish folk, saxophone-tinged prog, funky rock, and classical dynamics, the band weaves a twenty-minute suite around the movements of the traditional requiem mass, from the “Introit” through the “Dies Irae” into the “In Paradisum.” Railroad Earth are more than open to 15-minute-plus songs, of course. But this is the first time they’ve attempted a deliberately composed work on this scale, and it’s among the most moving things they’ve ever recorded. As great as their jams may be (and there’s plenty of space here for the group to stretch out), I can’t help but hope they do more in this vein in future.

When all is said and done, you still have to see them live to get the full Railroad Earth experience. But after Elko (for my money RE’s definitive recorded statement), Last of the Outlaws is as solid as anything in the band’s catalog. It’ll tide you over until the next gig near you anyway.
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on January 14, 2014
The guys with RRE have done it again. Years ago I reviewed an album by Railroad Earth and said that it was the sound track for your life. I have to say that this album is also connected to the listener in a way that relates to you like a traveling friend. The connection is almost spiritual. It's like these guys have tapped into what makes music special to us, and have allowed us to experience what they've learned. This immensely human collection of music is well worth the purchase price, especially when you consider that you'll listen to it dozens and dozens of times.
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on January 16, 2014
With the possible exception of the first track (which is nice, but nothing exceptional) "Last of the Outlaws" is an absolute masterpiece. I started listening to RRE a long time ago and while I've enjoyed all of their albums this one is special. Last of the Outlaws stands on its own. It's vastly different from the Black Bear Sessions or Bird in a House, but here RRE has gone back to their roots and opened a whole new level of creativity. Several of the tunes diverge away from the pop genre of the last album in a serious way. "All That's Dead" and "Face With a Hole" sound like RRE's "Saucerful of Secrets." Thank you for pushing the limit while staying true to who you are.

See you boys at Higher Ground in Burlington in a couple of weeks.
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on May 7, 2014
I discovered Railroad Earth a few years ago. I don't think they are from this planet. Musically you can't be a jam band with those instruments and you can't do musical styles like they do with stuff like a mandolin. On first hearing I had to eat some words but luckily the music made those words go down well, no antacid needed.

I never like everything on every Railroad Earth album. Some stuff is just okay but there are always gems that are so good I'd buy the whole CD for that one song.

That gem of this one is Monkey. I toss in When The Sun Gets In Your Blood and One More Night on the Road as choice cuts but I really can't find a track that makes me hit the skip button.

Railroad Earth is a jam band on mostly acoustic instruments. Sometimes its straight country or Americana but sometimes it is heavy rock mostly unplugged. They have a knack of having that live concert sound on every album they do...the sort of stuff where you hold that Bic lighter high as a sign of approval.

Railroad Earth is like no other band you've ever heard. The defy the rules and get out there are just have fun. There's a spur of the moment feel to their music, you know, when every band member clicks, hits its stride and acknowledges it with a smile. But they stop there. There's no shoe polish to make their songs shine with a sanitized feel. This is raw and live, be it organic and natural. It is a feel that just goes down good. This album is no different.

Whether your first or your next, this CD will do the trick. And go ahead and play it for your friends but don't be surprised if they are a bit astonished.
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on February 27, 2014
Before purchasing this new studio album from RRE I had only bought the live recordings available on Livedownloads.com. I'm very impressed to hear these songs sound just as good as the do live. Love it and the more I listen to RRE the bigger fan I become. Thanks JamOn for playing their music.
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on January 15, 2014
This album is what we have been waiting for from the RRE boys. From great bluegrass twangs to deep soulful grooves, happy and danceable tunes like "Chasin' a Rainbow" and "When the Sun Gets in your Blood" face off against slower songs like the title track and "Grandfather Mountain." The lynchpin of the album is the epic "All That's Dead/Face With a Hole" suite. This is an ambitious piece that could fail dramatically, but succeeds perfectly and is very much in the vein of the Grateful Dead's "Terrapin suite". Buy this and you will not be disappointed. See them live and you will be converted.
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on April 22, 2014
Railroad Earth is a bluegrass influenced jam band that I really enjoy seeing in concert. Many of the jam bands don't come across so well in the studio, but with this effort Railroad Earth delivers a well rounded album of great and varied tunes. Good songs, good lyrics, and great instrumentation. I have enjoyed it quite a lot.
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on May 23, 2014
Railroad Earth is one of those bands that has great songs on every record, but can't seem to make the classic album. This album is no exception. A lot of wonderful music, but also a couple of clunkers.
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on February 25, 2014
Now you must see these guys live they are so good. The band is made up of some of the best musicians around the great thing is they play together they listen to each other and are very much aware of what each of them are doing they serve the song not their own egos. Now with that said lets talk about this latest classic album from this great group. They have grown not only as a group but in their story telling via their songs. This is their best album to date the songs have grown their are a couple of pieces that are made up of movements smaller songs tied together that work very well. They move from time moving in and out blending not just bluegrass but a jazzer side which work for me. This is not a simple album but they pull it off. Some simply wonderful songs here that play well live. The opening song Chasin' A Rainbow is simply classic RRE and wait until you hear Grandfather Mountain I fell in love with this song from the first listen followed by the epic All That's Dead May Live which is a five part song cycle is so wonderful to hear the inter play between these men these guys play together with each one doing their part. It is so good to see and hear them musically talk to one another in some ways it reminds me of the convetsions Dave Brubeck would have with Paul Desmond as they played. I can not say enough great things about this album it thrills my heart to hear musicians put so much of themselves into their music. I think a big part of it is these guys love what they are doing they love playing music as much as we love hearing them play it. They also connect with their fans they take time to inner act with them. With these men it isn't ego it is love and it really shows in this new album I can't hear it enough it is that good so much to love here. If you have not heard them pick up this one you'll wind up a fan get their whole collection and be at the next show in your area.
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