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Amen Corner (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

Railroad Earth made its name on the jam band circuit with their hard to classify amalgamation of bluegrass, folk, Celtic, country, jazz, and rock, although the band itself says they're acoustic rockers. There's no denying that they rock hard, but on Amen Corner they sound most like a country band with a bluegrass accent. Todd Sheaffer the band's lead singer and main songwriter has a pleasant country/folk/singer/songwriter voice and a knack for crafting subtle melodies that give the rest of the band — Tim Carbone, fiddle, John Skehan, mandolin, Andy Goessling, guitar, banjo, dobro, mandolin, flute, penny whistle, and sax, Carey Harmon, drums and percussion, and standup bass man Johnny Grubb — plenty of room to stretch out. Skehan's mandolin and Carbone's fiddle play a beautiful harmonic hook to open "The Forecast," a tune that talks about a coming storm but Skehan's mandolin sprinkles that track with flurries of shimmering, sunshiney notes. "All Alone" sounds a bit like the Band with a slow, mournful backbeat, lonesome banjo, and Sheaffer's keening vocal. It sounds like a prayer offered by a man with no hope of being answered by friend, lover or god. Goessling's dobro adds slow wailing notes to complement the music's bluesy, hopeless vibe. "You Never Know" sounds like the last song of the night at a dusty honky tonk full of lonely men. It has a sad singalong chorus and the playing remains understated until Carbone's fiddle and Sheaffer's wordless yodel drive it home with a jaunty, if desperate coda. "Been Down This Road Before" has a nice bouncy bluegrass feel to counter its melancholy melody with a lyric of lost love staggering through the drunken shadows of the early morning hours. "Right in Tune" is an ode to true love that doesn't ignore the bumps in the highway, but celebrates the feeling you get when the sun is bright and everything's in tune. Goessling's dobro and Carbone's fiddle lift your spirits with their breezy instrumental flights. The album's lone instrumental tune, "Lonecroft Ramble," is a bluegrass romp with a hint of Celtic soul that lets each member show off his licks, with Skehan's mandolin sounding especially tasty. ~ j. poet, Rovi


Formed: 2001 in Stillwater, NJ

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Railroad Earth emerged from the breakup of one of New Jersey's most popular bands, From Good Homes, in early 2001. Later that year, with appearances at some of the major summer festivals on the bluegrass circuit under their belt -- including the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, and High Sierra Music Festival -- Railroad Earth showed that their music could go well beyond the realm of traditional bluegrass to incorporate folk, Celtic, jazz, and rock music. Todd Sheaffer, the...
Full Bio
Amen Corner (Bonus Track Version), Railroad Earth
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