Saturday, December 17, 2016

Rock Salt and Nails. Trouble in Mind.

Rock Salt and Nails & Friends. Trouble in Mind.
Self-produced, 2016.  Rock Salt and Nails:

We seem to have followed the career of this band from Alliance for several years, and reviewed both of their previous albums, Pickin’ Up the Pieces (2013), and Run to the River (2014). With their third album, they continue down the trail of traditional music and Americana, a core trio this time,  enhanced by three additional musicians with special skills. The group includes more material from other songwriters this time around as well, including Bill Morrissey, Randy Newman, Steve Earle, Tom Waits, and John Hiatt, but with plenty of originals (7 of 14). Each member of the trio is represented in songwriting, although Priscilla Roggenkamp has the lioness’s share of the credits. One of the marks of good songwriting is when you have to check the liner notes to figure out which songs are by big names and which are originals.

This is certainly an enjoyable and mostly upbeat album. The variety of songs, the change in lead vocals from song to song, and the excellent musicianship make for a satisfying listening experience. The CD begins with an unexpected tune, “Big Legged Ida,” played with a jazzy feel (helped by Jim Perrone’s clarinet) and the sense that the group was about to start laughing any second. “Put Me on the Top of Your List” is Roggenkamp’s first song on the album, and continues the friendly and open atmosphere of a bunch of folks getting together for a good time. Each of the new songs sounds like old friends. I especially like “Blue Ridge,”, a lovely waltz, and the loping “You Know More than You Know.” “One Lie at a Time,” by Roggenkamp, is prescient  in light of current politics. “Satchel’s Reel,” by Keith McMahon ends the album as an instrumental showcase.

The title track is a traditional blues, and like other songs they’ve done has somewhat downcast lyrics but is presented in an upbeat fashion. Harmonica by Mark Huddleson provides fine punctuation to the vocals. Of course, the songs by the big names are delightfully done. I particularly enjoyed Hiatt’s “The River Knows Your Name,” and Earle’s “Goodbye,” both somewhat mellow in tone, and gorgeously sung and played.

In all a highly worthy effort from a group folk music fans should get to know. The band isn’t scheduled for a concert until late January, in Alliance. Catch their show if you can.

Personnel:  Jim Dutter (guitar, mandolin); Keith McMahon (guitar, mandolin); Priscilla Roggenkamp (bass); vocals by all. With Mark Heddleson (harmonica); Jim Perrone (clarinet); Jon Scott (banjo).
Tracks:  Big Legged Ida, Put Me on the Top of Your List, Feels Like Home, Morning Bird, Blue Ridge, Greenville Trestle High, If It Hadn’t Been for Love, One Lie at a Time, Goodbye, The River Knows Your Name, Promise, I Hope that I Don’t Fall in Love with You, The Wind Calls You on, Trouble in Mind, Snowblind, You Know More than You Know, Satchel’s Reel.

Jeff Wanser

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