What You Get When You Put Five Jam Band Musicians In The Same Room
So what do you get when you mix one part Railroad Earth. two parts String Cheese Incident. and New Monsoon? A musical exercise in intergalactic guitar solos? A jazz inspired bluegrass odyssey? Would you believe country flavored rock and roll?!
The idea behind The Contribution was birthed by jam scene superstars Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth), Jeff Miller, and Phil Ferlino (both of New Monsoon) while at the Hornings Hideout music festival in the Pacific
Northwest back in 2005. The trio collectively decided to collaborate on a studio album that incorporated their existing sonic influences while also indulging their musical lusts. According to Carbone, “[After] many days lost in creativity beneath the mighty redwoods, [we] emerged into the California sunshine with ten songs.” Soon after, the contributions of Keith Moseley on bass and Jason Hann on drums from Colorado jam rock pioneers String Cheese Incident were pressed into service rounding out the musical vision on it’s founders. But is the end result something fans of SCI, Railroad Earth, and New Monsoon will appreciate? Actually, the end result is much different than the bloodlines of the founding members would lead you to predict.
The Contribution’s latest long player Which Way World sounds positively countryfied as if dipped in the greasiest bucket of southern fried twang one could imagine. After a handful of listens of I closed my eyes and imagined I was listening to the bastard child borne of Counting Crows and The Jayhawks pushing song after song into my brain as if it were a sponge soaking gravy spilled from a heaping plate of Waffle House’s finest.
And of course there’s everything you’d expect from the pedigree of the musicians involved: lefty-leaning
political lyrics, atmospheric vocal harmonies, complex melodic chord progressions, and brilliant musicianship. But where jambands shine often highlights the shortcomings of writing 3 to 4 minute songs that convey a message without relying on instrumental gimmickry and endless solos so I was happily surprised how the new album held up to repeated listens.
I have always tended to appreciate the musical composition of songs more so than than the lyrical content but with Which Way World, I found myself engrossed and sliding into the mind-altering sound-scape each song created. As a standalone album, Which Way World demonstrates a solid effort from a cast of characters who likely may have been expected to create something entirely more self-indulgent.