Don’t Mind If I Should – Turbine
Recently featured as an "On the Verge" band in Relix, Turbine is one of those rare creatures in the jam scene: a string-based duo. Comprised of Jeremy Hilliard (electric guitar/vocals) and Ryan Rightmire (acoustic guitar/harmonica/vocals), Turbine is a young band still just thrilled to be making music, and this freshness comes through on their live-in-the-studio debut album, Don’t Mind if I Should. Their core is a campfire blend of blues, folk, country and bluegrass; however, this core finds itself residing in New York City (?!?!), which may account for some of the jazzier/electric sounds seasoned throughout the album.
As players, Hilliard and Rightmire certainly compliment each other well. Though I was never knocked over in astonishment by the amount of sound coming out of them, the album leaves no doubt that the two can converse musically without a third party. The eerie sounds Rightmire produces from his harp mesh wonderfully with Hilliard's soulful electric guitar on the changing soundscapes of "Desert Rose," and the two channel the psychedelic spirits of the Incredible String Band through spiritually-charged lyrics and hypnotic, meandering guitar runs on the book-ending "New Age of Sun" and "Son of New Age." Hilliard and Rightmire are most captivating and authentic here, when the music wails and whispers…and directs our thoughts to the deeper mysteries of life.
Turbine loses some of that when the guys try to tell a more traditional campfire song — one for campers who believe in (but have trouble following the teachings of) Jesus, and who would never in their most drunken moments consider tripping to be a recreational activity. On songs like "Traveling Man" and "Farm Dreams," the generic lyrical content (booze, love, loneliness, regret, jail, hittin' the road) and, more importantly, phrasing ("He drank his way to Vegas till he could barely stand; he's been all around the whole wide world, and now he's just a traveling man) keep the songs from having the emotional resonance that the harmonies and playing strive for. Once the playing takes center stage again, though ("O-Dawg Stomp", "Maritime Rag"), pretense is whisked away, and Turbine settles comfortably into the role of foot-stomping crowd-pleasers. This may be the first notch on Turbine's belt, but it certainly won't be the last.