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Album Review

THE CORDUROY ROAD
Just One Drop EP

When you listen to music all the time, it occasionally turns on you, and allow me to qualify this by saying that listening for review is a whole lot different than listening for pleasure. When the music turns, your ears stop hearing, your brain turns to mush and you wonder why you subject yourself to such aggravation. A few weeks ago, I stopped wondering. A band from California called Old Californio jumped into my player and locked itself in with their new album, Westering Again, which swept me away with a seemingly normal brand of rock and country--- country rock, in fact--- better than I'd heard in some time. I mention this because just last week, their Americana-slash-bluegrass cousins, The Corduroy Road, wandered in from Athens GA and joined the music fest with their five-song EP, Just One Drop, without dropping a beat.

Whereas Old Californio ghosts the aura of early Crazy Horse, Illinois Speed Press and Bernie Leadon-era Eagles, Corduroy Road leans a bit more toward the folk side, and I'm talking the 50s, 60s and 70s when folk infused rock, pop and country into the mix. Throughout this EP, the band turns influences on their ears. Lead vocals are right on, but where they really shine is with harmonies which blend the smooth slick style of, say, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver with the more textured harmonies reminiscent of early Pure Prairie League or Heartsfield. And when they really lean toward folk, it has the modernized sense of early Gordon Lightfoot or even Peter, Paul & Mary (They don't sound like them at all, and yet they do--- it's a conundrum).

The five songs here is enough to show that these guys are on their way up. Production is topnotch, producer John Keane playing a slew of instruments himself (his pedal steel is outstanding) and bringing in a handful of excellent sidemen to fill out the sound.

This EP is a precursor to a full album scheduled for release in June. The way the press release reads, these five tracks may not be on the upcoming album, tentatively titled Love is a War. Releasing an EP late Spring and an album the beginning of Summer is an oddity, but since the big labels began shooting themselves in the foot, the new models make as much sense as the old ones and the bang-bang release should make for a great jump toward Fall and Winter. With what they show on Just One Drop, they could release an EP and an album each year for years to come and I really don't think anyone would mind. Good stuff is good stuff and what they do is--- well, good. Pretty damn good, in fact. 'Nuff said.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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