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Published: 2016/10/07
by Justin Jacobs

Bob Weir
Blue Mountain

Since the summer of 2015, Bob Weir has been on an electrifying kick—energetic performances, reinvigorated jams and rich, throaty vocals—that began with his Fare Thee Well performances and continued through the formation of Dead & Company. But in all these musical adventures, Weir has been one patch in a colorful tapestry. With Blue Mountain, he steps out with all new, original solo material for the first time in decades. At 12 tracks, Blue Mountain is a gorgeously soulful album of acoustic folk, blues and country cuts. Weir tapped Yellowbirds alum Josh Kaufman to produce and cowrite the set, with Josh Ritter stepping in for longtime lyricist John Perry Barlow and The National’s Scott Devendorf and Aaron and Bryce Dessner—who were in the process of recording their own Day of the Dead tribute—fleshing out many of the studio sessions. Weir’s steady collaborators Steve Kimock, Robin Sylvester, Joe Russo and newer friends like Sam Cohen also lend their talents, but all these names don’t take the spotlight away from Weir. Nearing 70 years old, he creates songs that feel like home—warm and quietly exhilarating. On the title track—a sparse, country ballad—Weir sings, “My days, they were troubled and restless. All the bad news I looked for, I found.” Lyrically, he’s a wise elder reflecting on an adventurous youth in these tunes: “I know what the ghost towns know—love comes and goes,” he sings on the gently grooving “Ghost Towns.” That vantage point plays out beautifully on tracks like “Cottonwood Lullaby,” a stunning meditation on passing time, anchored with gentle piano. Weir has climbed many mountains over the past 50 years—and this journey is a wonderful one to join.

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