California-based guitarist/singer Bob Weir’s first solo album in more than 10 years finds him revisiting youthful country-folk experiences in Wyoming.
The Grateful Dead co-founder draws on his pre-psychedelic memories to craft Blue Mountain, a pastoral slice of echo-drenched Americana.
Weir is an enduring figure in American rock music since the mid-1960s and his version of The Dead’s long, strange trip has led him to a John Denver-esque world that he’s textured with honky-tonk tales, death ballads and ringing acoustic songs overlaid by languorous electric sounds.
There are no jam-band excursions on Blue Mountain, although the tenor of some arrangements are elastic. The songs are solid but atmospheric and Weir brings his instinctive skill as a vibed-out rhythm guitar player and expressive singer to make Blue Mountain a consistent album.
His voice, always supportive in The Dead’s repertoire, finds its niche in these resonant recordings. His delivery hints at experience and brings dusty tracks like Ghost Towns, Darkest Hour and Storm Country a familiarity that makes the lonely songs warmer.
Fans of The Grateful Dead are generally an accepting lot where the band is concerned, so Weir won’t lose any support there. For those unfamiliar with Weir’s work, who are fans of roots music and Americana, Blue Mountain will be a left-field gem.
– Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who writes about the latest music releases for The Morning Star every Friday.