OK, It's Soulgrass....
This is the third in the soulgrass sound of this soulgrass band, according to Evans’ web site. I’m not convinced by the neologism, unless the prevalence of a background banjo is enough to grassify any sound you choose to prefix accordingly. It is most definitely soulful, and a lush carpet of funk pumps underneath. But not really grass.
Bill Evans’ sax drives every track and it is both punchy and virtuoso. Great to hear such a lead in what to me is much more simply a rock band. With Warren Haynes on guitar, and a guest appearance from Steve Lukather, it’s not difficult to hear why.
The first three tracks set the soul’n’funk scene, with opener Madman having the most obvious hint of bluegrass in the fingerplucked banjo by Ryan Cavanaugh, but the rock vocal of Josh Dion and full-blown female chorus soon stamps a different generic authority. Evans’ sax dances energetically through this, with Haynes providing an echoing solo. Second Time is essentially funky with organ stabs, and third Kings and Queens has a Bill Withers rhythm preparing its smooth groove.
Fourth track Tit For Tat is an instrumental showcasing the tight expertise of the band. This is jazz funk to the core. Sixth Forbidden Daffodils is another instrumental, slower in pace – but still jazz - and Evans’ playing is beautiful. Lukather’s guitar lick on this track is brilliant.
Seventh Nothing To Believe In tries to reassert its grass-tag again, and for me it’s more a jest where the banjo intro is its only playful spokesperson [there is a solo, and Cavanaugh can play....]. The title track ends the album and its start is a fast-paced and punching banjo/sax duo before breaking into Evans' again soaring solo – until that virtuoso banjo comes in once more to undermine the premise of this review, and the ideology has been, begrudgingly, fully realised! Consider a listen of this fine album of journey of soulgrass discovery.