The River and the Road's latest keeps building the folk-rock revival
The River and the Road (Independent)
We seem to be at the beginning of some kind of new golden age on the West Coast, at least as far as musical acts in the Americana and folk-rock genres go. With the likes of Portage and Main and Good for Grapes building sizable fan bases, the River and the Road will no doubt follow suit. The band, based around the original songs of singer-guitarist Andrew Phelan and singer-banjoist Keenan Lawlor, made it into the Top 20 of the Peak Performance Project (along with other roots-minded acts such as Headwater and the aforementioned Portage and Main). So that’s a good start.
The River and the Road lean toward the mellow side, with numbers like Phelan’s “Old Ben” and Lawlor’s “Too Much” floating by like a summer breeze of intertwined acoustic melodies and sweet vocal harmony. Don’t mistake the duo’s light touch for a lack of substance, however. Both songs are about addiction and death, and they sit alongside selections about grinding urban poverty (“Diamond”), loves left behind (“Blueprint”), and giving up on dreams of stardom to drink oneself into oblivion (“The Patron”).
Here’s to hoping that last one isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy. Based on the quality of The River and the Road, Phelan and Lawlor shouldn’t feel compelled to hit the bottle that hard anytime soon.