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11 SOLID SONGS BY A BAND TO WATCH
on November 15, 2005
Tea Leaf Green has grown in the space of a little over a year from a West Coast favorite on the "jamband" scene into a band with a loyal fanbase across the country. They have canvassed the country this year playing many festivals (including Bonnaroo),and just completed opening for Trey Anastasio on the first leg of his tour. Listening to this album, their fourth studio effort and first with a major distribution, it's no surprise why they have grown in popularity. Playing live they can stretch out, but you won't find any jams on this album, as the band wisely chose to feature their other strong point: Songwriting. It's what, IMHO, is going to set them apart from being your typical jam band. Musically, the songs on this album are all very solid, piano-driven pieces (mainly because the bulk of the songwriting comes from keyboard player Trevor Garrod). That doesn't mean that the other members don't get a chance to shine. Ben Chambers' bass line creates a soft bed for "Pretty Jane" to lie on, guitarist Josh Clark solo's tastefully thoughout, and Scotty Rager knows how to accent the songs with his drumming without showboating. Lyrically, the songs all deal with with seeking, finding and being free. "Garden III" opens the album in style, and sets the tone for what follows: "Darlin' let's let our hair grow long, we can work on a farm, maybe live on a mountain. Got an old hound dog who likes to run, he needs a lot of room and he hates to be chained up. Just like me, just like we are supposed to be". But the freedom being sung about doesn't always come easy, as songs like "The Rapture", "If It Wasn't For The Money", and the powerful "John Brown" attest. How does one resolve the idea of being free with the actual reality of living free? The answers lie at the beginning with "Taught To Be Proud", (a song that isn't about patriotism, but knowing that who you are is a product of how you were raised and understanding your past), and at the end with "Ride Together" a song about the joys of friendship, and the haunting closer, "Flippin' The Bird" which is about being brave enough to follow your own path.
Keep your eyes and ears on this band. A recent post on the band's website from a fan said this album is Tea Leaf Green's "American Beauty". Much like that Grateful Dead classic, "Taught To Be Proud" should open the band up to a broader audience and will probably be remembered as a key turning point in the band's career. I suspect that within a year they will be known outside of the jamband scene. This album should help that immensely.