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From the Pasture to the Future – The Waybacks

Compass Records 744302

With an ear towards the past and an eye towards the present and future, The Waybacks don’t allow genre to hold it back from musical avenues that introduce bluegrass and folk to pop and jazz structures. The members use the rules of roots music like a rubberband that’s stretched without breaking (i.e. an electric guitar solo on “Helping Me”). The approach makes the point that, in the members’ hands, genre definitions are useless, while the selection of cover tunes emphasizes it. The Kinks’ “Motorway” sounds as if Ray Davies wrote it when he lived in New Orleans, rather than three decades earlier and an ocean away in England. Later, the group’s take on Chick Corea’s “Armando’s Rhumba” gives it the feel of David Grisman’s Dawg music. On the other hand “The Blacksmith” stays fairly true to its Celtic roots.

On “The Petrified Man,” echoes of folk and country can be heard amidst the vocal track chronicling the existence of someone living through the terror threats and realities of the 21st century. “Hot Kranski” offers some jazz textures to the mix, while using a drum pattern that’s intermittently subtle and as forceful as that heard on rock tracks. The title track and “Bluebird Waltz” may find their place in the newgrass state of sound, but it’s the stellar string band musicianship that causes the tunes to stand out from the Waybacks peers. Overall, the songs' construction put a tuneful melody in place, but there’s the constant sense that you’re never quite sure where the number will go. That excitement, and ability to do it in a compact framework, makes “From the Pasture to the Future” akin to a handpicked bouquet of flowers. Each number represents a different, shape, smell and texture that enhance the overall outcome.

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