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Album Review

As its title implies, Town By Town, the Yonder Mountain String Band's second studio recording and third CD overall, is something of a concept album about life on the road, the reality for the quartet's members since the group's formation. Mandolin player Jeff Austin's "New Horizons" concerns the rescue of a family from a flood, and guitarist Adam Aijala's "A Father's Arms" is a war story with a Vietnam-era tone, but even these two songs are about family and dislocation, and the rest of the songs are dominated by references to travel, with the necessary impact on the singers' love lives, resulting either in breakups or pleas for fidelity, a major factor. But the lyrics of these original songs penned by the band members, sung in their uniformly reedy tenors, are less significant than the music underlying them, a familiar mixture of fast-picked guitar, mandolin, and banjo, with producer Tim O'Brien adding welcome fiddle and bouzouki lines here and there. In addition to three outright instrumentals ("Easy As Pie," "Wildewood Drive," and "Hog Potato"), "New Horizons" and "Peace of Mind" both contain extended instrumental sections that go beyond the term "breakdown" into the kind of loose improvisation typical of rock bands like the Grateful Dead, justifying the group's inclusion under the jam band umbrella. Nevertheless, there is plenty here to enthuse a traditional bluegrass fan. (After three minutes of silence at the end of "Peace of Mind" comes a six-plus-minute hidden track, probably titled "Dance, Boatman, Dance," which is taken at a sprightly square dance tempo and features O'Brien's fiddle extensively.)

Customer Reviews

Absolutely incredible

This is some of the coolest bluegrass I've ever had the pleasure to hear. "Must've Had Your Reasons", "Rambler's Anthem" and "Idaho" are my favorites at the moment, but everything this band does is great fun and well worth listening to.

One of my favorites

Yonder Mountain is exceptional. Their music is a pleasure to listen to; do your ears a favor and buy this album. You will not be disappointed!

Great Album to have!

I actually had this album for years before I listened to it. I was too wrapped up in there lives albums, and what new was coming out. Then finally I really listened to it, and since has become one of my favorite ymsb cd's. Old classics like Rambler's Anthem, Idaho, Must've Had Your Reasons, To See You Coming 'round the Bend, and Boatman's "Dance" are some great songs to hear in an older more classic tune.

Biography

Formed: 1998 in Nederland, CO

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Fusing bluegrass with elements of rock, progressive, and improvisational music, the Yonder Mountain String Band have become one of the most celebrated acts on the acoustic music scene, thanks to the group's inventive style and busy touring schedule. The group's story began in Urbana, Illinois, where Dave Johnston, a student at the University of Illinois, met fellow student Jeff Austin. Johnston played banjo in a local acoustic band called the Bluegrassholes, and when he learned Austin was a novice...
Full Bio