Love, Ain't Love
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Love. Ain't Love
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For nearly 20 years, Yonder Mountain String Band has redefined bluegrass music, expanding the traditional acoustic genre beyond its previously established boundaries by steadily pushing the envelope into the realms of rock n roll and improvisation. Yonder has always played music of their own design, in the process attracting a devout coterie of fans that often resembles a tight knit family on an epic musical journey as Yonder traverses the country with an ever-rigorous tour schedule. Yonder is a quintessential ensemble honing its craft night after night on the road, and the fans are there to experience it in real time. The result is music that doesn t stand still, it s always progressing and breaking unprecedented ground.
Top customer reviews
I'm actually going to give this new release from YMSB 5 stars, but only because there are no 'half' stars that I can use for my review (it's really 4.5 stars IMHO and this disc is so much better than just giving it a mere 4 stars).
Overall, a very tight and interesting album from Yonder Mountain String Band, their second full length release since the departure of Jeff Austin from the line-up, and I for one really enjoy this one (although I also liked their previous effort, Black Sheep, as well).
After several years of non-stop touring with Jacob Joliff and Allie Kral in the band, the YMSB sound has come full circle, and I really enjoy the dynamics of this band now. The five members mesh nicely and complement each other in ways that really benefits the music, especially the originals, which wasn't always the case in years past.
On this new release, Love, Ain't Love', there is a little something for everyone.
Do you like smoking instrumentals? Well there are four of them on it, yes, count them, four!
I am a huge instrumental fan and I think these tracks keep the momentum going throughout the disc (not to mention the toes a tappin too!). Jake is the instigator here, responsible for both 'Eat in go deaf (Eat out go broke)' and 'Up for Brinkleys', with some great mandolin work, which has always been a calling card for YMSB through the years. My personal favorite instrumental is a song called 'Kobe the Dog' which was written about one of Adam's dogs, who has unfortunately passed on. It's a happy song about a happy (and mischievous) dog and the track flows so nicely and effortlessly that I can almost picture Kobe running and playing in the yard. With Adam on banjo and Jake on guitar, this one is without a doubt, my favorite track on the album.
Other highlights are a song called 'Bad Taste' which is typical YMSB fare, one which I was fortunate enough to see live last year when they came through Boston, which has a memorable hook line and really opens up in a live setting. Other interesting songs on the release are Alison (the opener written by Dave) which is a great song but IMHO needs a few more higher register harmonies, which Allie is more than capable of delivering. Ben's piano-based track 'Used to It' is very interesting and holds it's own (almost a centerpiece to the disc) and his 'Last of the Railroad Men' is an excellent but unusual take on an Americana style song with some sonic twists on the bass and mandolin (distortion added) to keep it interesting.
Two other songs to note (that I especially like): The only cover song on the disc, 'Dancing in the Moonlight' which is sung by Jake (and was no doubt brought into the band by him, since he always seems to gravitate towards those cover songs from the 70's). What a GREAT cover song fit for YMSB! I bet it kills live, too! The final song on the release is called Groovin' Away, which (yes, believe it or not) is a reggae song, that really caps off the album in a unique but fitting way. This is a really nice original reggae number with LOTS of great harmonies and another catchy hook line that continues to ring inside your head, long after the disc has finished.
Another thing that I really love about this album is the way that most of the songs go into each other by way of some 'linking' sound, or studio banter, or unique phrasing (lyrically or musically) which ties the whole thing together. A couple of great examples of this is Dave's repeated megaphone babble "I wander out and I wander back again" fading out from the track 'Chasing my Tail' and the dog barking out of 'Kobe the Dog' which morphs into a steam train engine picking up speed at the beginning of 'Last of the Railroad Men'. What a great concept. Very nice!
My one problem with the album is the under-utilization of Allie Kral. She is indeed well represented by her incredible fiddle playing throughout the release, yet she should ALWAYS have at least one vocal track represented on each studio album. I do realize that they wanted Jake to take his turn on lead vocal this time around (Dancing in the Moonlight) since Allie shined on the last record, but she is good enough and has the vocal chops to always have at least one lead vocal romp whenever the band puts out a studio release. Remember that next time around, guys. I've been a fan of Allie since first seeing her onstage with Cornmeal, and her vocal strengths should be utilized to their fullest extent, especially with great songs like these that scream for more harmonies at the end of the day.
For all intents and purposes though (and the bottom line of it all), 'Love, Ain't Love' is a worthy release by Yonder Mountain String Band, one that I keep listening to over and over (and it gets better each time!), so pick up a copy and support this band, you will not be disappointed!