Alder Street isn’t your typical bluegrass band. The band comprised of Ian Royer (guitar), Chris Kelley (banjo) Aaron Nelson (bass), Jake Beckwith (fiddle), Jesse Lawton (mandolin) and Emily West (drums) bring their own off kilter style of bluegrass on their exceptional album entitled Americannibal. Genres aside this album is extremely fun. The songs resonate with a loose, festive nature that feels organic. It sounds live in the best way possible – it’s the sound of people playing in a room together. The production is minimal and is all the better for it as the instruments sound clear, crisp and as if you are listening to the band play at a venue. The album isn’t exactly short at twelve songs but it’s a breeze to get through. It’s a case of hit play and enjoy.
The first song “The Skinner” is a personal favorite of mine as sound like something you would hear at a Russian circus that had a bit of a Persian/Klezmer theme going. At the focal center is the fiddle, which holds down the fort with some snazzy lead work. The song benefits from tempo changes that sound natural instead of forced and by the end the little dance you were doing has turned to a full fledged sweaty workout.
“Meat Wagon” is more a straightforward bluegrass song but is still one heck of a knee slapping good time. The vocals are top notch as is pretty much everything else in the song. “House” features female vocals, slows things down a bit and features some mandolin work that will remind you of “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead. It was evident to me that the band enjoys changing BPM. The second half speeds thing up quite a bit, which changes the mood of the song.
“Girl With a Curl” contains some story telling folk on top of the bluegrass while “Johnny Goes To Hell” has some wicked fast vocal melodies, which are a delight to listen to. They close with "Satan’s Mandolin", which showcases some technical mastery you don’t want to miss.
Bluegrass bands are a dime a dozen but what Alder Street has done on Americannibal is back up the fun, festive vibe that bluegrass provides with substantial songs. It is easy to put on this album and enjoy it upon first listen but with repeated listens the songs start to resonate in ways not all bluegrass does. Americannibal is a substantial effort and I am almost positive you won’t be disappointed with what you hear.
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