Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

May 7, 2013

Rusted Root ~ When I Woke

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: folk rock, jam band, acoustic rock, experimental
Label: Polygram
Year: 1994
Home: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Members: Michael Glabicki ~ lead vocals/guitar/mandolin/harmonica
Liz Berlin, Jennifer Wertz, Jim Donovan ~ percussion/b. vocals
John Buynak ~ flute/mandolin/percussion/guitar
Patrick Norman ~ bass/percussion/b. vocals
Daniel James DiSpirito ~ drum/sax/tabla

I've never been much into jam bands, but the moment I first heard RR's "Send Me On My Way" on the radio I was hooked to this particular jam band. Perhaps the thing that separated RR from their peers was the always changing & unpredictable rhythms & different parts that fused together to paint a hypnotic musical experience that relied on a different format than traditional droning notes. The other thing that grabbed me is the world beat influence that permeates the music from start to finish but with the result never really sounding like a world beat album nor disjointed pieces that seem uncomfortable together. It's heavily layered & you want to crank up the volume to hear the funk bass, the new age singing, the Native American & South American drumming creating tribal grooves, the folksy acoustic guitars, the Native American flutes, the mandolins, the talking drums, the country washboard & the Indian tamboura. The pieces might span the ethnic music spectrum but together lose their identity & becomes something truly world beat. There's only two problems that have plagued RR. You know fireside sing-alongs? RR takes this to the next level, but it's hard to sing along with & the lyrics are fragmented or under-developed. The only thing not textured are the lyrics. The singing is great but no message is ever lyrically developed enough. The other problem, maybe more of a problem for some depending upon what you like when it comes to jam bands or hippie folk rock, is that more often than not the songs feel incomplete. Some songs feel more like jams (i.e. "Back To The Earth", "Ecstasy", "Martyr", "Rain"), while others feel like extended bridges between one song to the next (i.e. "Food & Creative Love", "Dream Trip", "Infinite Tamboura"). Though, if the songs were more cut up, individualized & less extended it might potentially kill the flavor of the album, particularly on the second half of the album which is more jam oriented. We'd potentially go from tribal grooves to a heavily rhythmic take on the Dave Matthews Band. The album now feels like they found a groove & when a new groove came into their head they went with it, versus saying we two minutes here or a solo here. There are some legitimate more beginning-middle-end songs, including the hit "Send Me On My Way", "Cruel Sun" which veers off into a Grateful Dead solo moment, the radio friendly "Cat Turned Blue", the slow plaintive ballad though lyrically weak "Beautiful People", while "Laugh As The Sun" & "Lost In A Crowd" lie somewhere between finished songs & jams. Some critics, & commercial success would echo this, have said that the follow-up to this, RR's third album, is tighter & more focused making When I Woke a bit of a transition album. Their debut was more rock oriented & imitative, while the third album was a sound unique to RR with When I Woke being the bridge. I've not heard the other albums so I can't comment on that, but I know when I first heard this album I loved it & over a decade later I still enjoy it just as much, maybe even more since I've developed out my listening for world rhythms since that initial introduction. If you like tribal grooves, anything but traditional arrangements & instrumentation & prefer music that flows versus being restrained, RR would be a delightful addition to your music library. RR continue to record & tour.

No comments:

Post a Comment