Saltgrass These Days

Saltgrass is actually singer/songwriter Max Rollo and a series of pals and guests backing him up. This time 'round, he gets help from members of Blue Mountain, the Mertons, and Kudzu Kings. And damned if they don't have the cohesiveness of a road tested band. They're full and muscular without being flashy in the least, echoing Blue Mountain, Uncle Tupelo and Matthew Ryan. It's mostly electric, but when they break out the acoustic instruments, like the dobro and mandolin on tracks like "Lucky Me The View," one of the disc's highlights, they're equally adept. Rollo's vocals, at times, recall Steve Earle, mostly when he stretches out the notes, adding a skooch more nasality to his already twang-y delivery. His songs deal with typical roots/Americana subjects like love and its struggles, and the plight of the working man. Yet, he never slips into cliché or archetype. "Peel Me Off The Wall" adds a little Stones-y crunch and a piledriver bass line to the twang-y side, while the harmonica in "Savior" makes it sound as if it'd be right at home on Springsteen's The River. The closer, "Pulling Away," marries a Velvetsy riff to an otherwise full-on rootsy rocker. Damn fine stuff. (Puddledock)