BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
It’s a mighty impressive band that can take a sound which is literally as old as the hills, and then repurpose it with an approach that’s vital and exciting. Yet, that’s what Tellico has done on their maiden outing, with the result that they’ve suddenly gone from zero to sixty on this initial attempt. Yes, it’s that good, evidenced by the fact that they’ve not only effectively melded bluegrass and Appalachian influences, but also taken something as markedly contemporary as a Neil Young medley “White Line/River of Pride” and repurposed it as a roughhewn ramble with nary a trace of a “Neil-ism” in sight.
The moods are mixed, from the joyful revelry of opener “Backstep Blues” to the dark narrative “Calamity” immediately following. The angry rebuke of “Lean Into It” contrasts with the mellow rapture of “Morning Haze,” while the humorous hillbilly tribute to a pair of comical TV heroes, “Hawkeye Pierce and Honeycutt Blues,” counters the driving delivery of “Can’t Go Home Again.” It’s an impressive array to say the least, and while the mix of guitar, fiddle, dobro, pedal steel, lap steel, mandolin and clawhammer banjo might otherwise suggest an archival feel, the contemporary mindset distances this set of songs from any hint of a sepia-tinted pastiche. It’s barely hit the shelves, but it already gives reason to anticipate an imagined sophomore set.
DOWNLOAD: “Calamity,” “Hawkeye Pierce and Honeycutt Blues,” “Backstep Blues”