As a member of one of the most famous bands in the history of rock and roll, Bob Weir is a man who needs no introduction. However, if you are unfamiliar with the music of Weir, now would be a good time to introduce yourself to it. This week he will release his first solo album in 10 years. Blue Mountain is a testament not just to Weir's songwriting, but also to songwriting in general.
When you hear the first line of the album, "I was born up in the mountains," it's hard not to think about Warren Zevon. The vocal quality is very similar. The melody incorporates a lot of layers that make it hard to describe. There is a spacey keyboard sound throughout the song, and there is also an aspect of the Bakersfield sound in the guitar. Meanwhile, the guitar solo leans a bit toward the psychedelic. It's a rich song, and by the end of it, you'll be singing along to the lyrics "only a river gonna make things right."
Considering Weir's history as a member of The Grateful Dead, it wouldn't be surprising to find a lot of long songs on this album. However, the length of the songs is not the thing that grabs you. The longest song is a very reasonable 4:54. The real story on this album is the depth and breadth of the songs. The more you listen, the more you realize that these seem like short stories set to music. "Cottonwood Lullaby" is a great example. This is a song that takes you through cowboys, cowgirls, heaven and Jackson Hole. It's a stunning piece of songwriting that really paints a picture for the listener.
Weir has written some very pretty songs for this album. "Gallop on the Run" is a great example. This one also has that spacey Bakersfield sound. He sings about missing someone who "rescued me from jail". The story in this song will definitely make you feel something - particularly in conjunction with the musical arrangement. This is the kind of song that can make you wish that you had similar songwriting abilities.
This is a stunning album. It's hard to know what else to say about it. Maybe nothing else needs to be said. It is an album filled with amazingly rich songs that have a literary quality. The songwriting quality brings to mind artists like Kris Kristofferson, Tom Waits, and Warren Zevon. If you're a fan of Bob Weir or just good songwriting in general, this is an album you should add to your collection. Blue Mountain will be available from Columbia/Legacy on Friday, September 30.