The Bridge Blind Man's Hill

The Bridge Blind Man's Hill
Talent doesn't come any fresher than this. Fans of the Southern sounds of Marshall Tucker, Wet Willie and even Skynyrd will fall fast for this crack outfit, grafting strong elements of country and bluegrass to what starts out as a solid rock platform. The vocals of Cris Jacobs are the band's strongest suit; he's a warm, rich, rock-steady point man with a soft, sour mash-smooth tone. Being restricted to the jam band lot doesn't do them any favours, as their inventive sounds go well beyond the traditions of loose-edged spontaneity with songs that are varied, original and capable of spring boarding the band in any direction they see fit to take. The potential lifts off the page as strong grooves give way to elements of funk and soul, while these seasoned veterans control every facet of each well-orchestrated composition. Leaning on guitar, Hammond B3, mandolin, lap steel and sax, this eclectic brew churns out such surprises as "Honey Bee," a dead ringer for vintage Little Feat, and "Poison Wine," which conjures tough "Gimme Back My Bullets" imagery. And then there's "Little Dreams," a fast picking bluegrass delight steeped in the traditions of hill country. Good luck pegging these guys — they're not about to let you, which makes them all the more essential. (Hyena)