Five years is a lifetime in music. In this
new-sound-a-minute era, it’s generally understood that the majority of those
bands that don’t release an album every few years are practically dead to the
music world, even if they have toured for decades. That point was famously
driven home as long ago as 1984 when such bands were unceremoniously relegated
to the `Where are they now?’ collective memory file in the landmark movie “This
is Spinal Tap.”
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is one of the few exceptions to
that rule. Formed in 1965, the band that boasts such high-wattage alums as
Jackson Browne and Eagles’ co-founder Bernie Leadon has always exuded a
confidence that comes from members’ commitment to keeping the group’s signature
country/jug/roots/American sound in tact.
One listen to Speed of
Life – The Dirt Band’s first new CD in five years – and it’s obvious that
the band that was born from jam sessions at a Long Beach, Calif., guitar store
may have won Grammys but hasn’t shed its commitment to roots’ music. Sure,
there are plenty of musical nods to modern sensibilities, but The Dirt Band’s
music is akin to a dip in a warm, bubbling Jacuzzi. It’s always comfortable and
relaxing but boasts enough effervescence to add a solid element of fun to the
Consider “The Resurrection” that tells the all-American
story of dying dreams and faded love by way of a banquet of steel guitars and
deceptively straightforward lyrics such as “For the resurrection/Fire from the
ashes and the tears/the resurrection/You know, dreams die hard/Dreams die hard
around here.” Tough to imagine any other band pulling off such a story and
making it feel fresh, yet that’s just what happens.
But don’t think this CD is filled with three-hanky numbers.
“It’s Good to Be Alive,” is an old-fashioned foot tapper, which talks about –
well, you know – how good it is to be alive. And then there’s “Tryin’ to Try” a
country tune that has such slow pacing and old-time country elements it could
arguably work well in The Carter Family catalogue.
The Dirt Band may be 45 years old and give ample bows to its
genre’s heritage but it’s got the spunk of the freshest new band out there –
plus musical chops you just won’t find anywhere else.
Standout Tracks: “The Resurrection,” “Tryin’ to Try” NANCY DUNHAM