Top positive review
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Studio Recording With a Live Dynamic
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.