Knee slapping, beer drinking and bass fishing all have something in common besides just being simply awesome. They all are activities that will be enhanced if you take a listen to On The Run by The Cardinal Sound. The band weaves in genres like folk, bluegrass and reggae on their album and usually succeeds in making fun, well-written songs that sound cohesive as a whole.
They are at their best when they are upbeat, exuding optimism and have that gosh darn glorious sounding banjo playing. A four-piece band hailing from Des Moines, Iowa, the music they play feels as natural as the corn that is grown there. As natural as the music sounds, I have to say they have a better knack for the bluegrass-style songs and I would have been perfectly happy if the reggae and slower song had been omitted. Aside from this the album is filled with exuberant songs that can lift the dopamine levels in your brain by a couple of degrees.
The album starts things off on the right foot with “On The Run” which sounds like it would be a great opener at a live show. Banjos swirl as this bluegrass tune is treated with infectious vocals, melodies and intricate drumming. “Dry” decides to forgo the bluegrass and turn to a blues almost funk-based format. It wasn’t a bad song but I have to say that it wasn’t what I was expecting after the first song. Things return to a more bluegrass/country vibe with “Outlaws” while “Dreams” is their first attempt at a slow acoustic ballad. “Serena” is one of the best songs on the album and plays into their strengths. The song is upbeat, has some wicked banjo playing and the best vocals on the album. “Soul to Steal” worked well as it veered more towards the country side but wasn't enough of great departure from their other material to make it feel out of place. “Passing Through” felt a bit out of place to me; the reggae-style guitar seemed a bit odd with the country-inspired vocals. The album ends with “Proving Grounds” with a softly played song that singer-songwriter-esque. On The Run is a good album that only has a couple missteps that don't take away from their strengths. Check this out if you are in the mood for a good eclectic album that does bluegrass some justice.
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