Featuring Tim Carbone (who also produced the album), John Skehan, Andy Goessling, and Johnny Grubb of Railroad Earth, this album has a full, "warm" sound that presents Gans in a different vein than his usual role as a solo singer / songwriter. The album features a wide variety of styles, as some of the songs are "rockers," others hearken back to folk traditions, while others offer Gans' unique perspective as an intelligent songwriter and longtime Dead Head (he's the host of the long-running, nationally syndicated Grateful Dead Hour). Such diversity in the tracks inspires different moods, as certain songs present a rather sardonic wit ("Shove In the Right Direction" and "Down to Eugene"), while other songs are more self aware and yearning ("Save Us From the Saved" and "Autumn Day"). The album features Tim Carbone's appealing turns on violin, as well as solid performances from his bandmates in Railroad Earth. The band establishes a likable, warm foundation for Gans' vocals and lyrics, and the marriage of the two is productive and pleasing.
"A Shove In the Right Direction" kicks the album off in
jovial, rollicking fashion, as Gans' ballad about workplace uncertainty is
punctuated by flirtatious interplay between violin, mandolin, and banjo. "Down to
In presenting "The Ones That Look the Weirdest Taste the Best," David Gans has offered a charming collection of songs that catalogue his wry perspectives as a singer, songwriter, and as a prominent figure in the Grateful Dead community. The album pulls from lots of different traditions in these songs, as the simplicity of bare bones folk is evident in certain tracks, while others feature robust musical interplay and exchanges. On several tracks, Gans offers a sardonic wit and a story-telling style that reminds me John Hartford at his peak. On other tracks, where the subject matter takes a serious turn, he sings in a simple, emotive style that is far less humorous, but just as effective. The inclusion of Tim Carbone and his bandmates from Railroad Earth has infused the album with a full-bodied, robust sound and the talents of these contributors are prominently displayed throughout the album. In these tracks, Gans indicates a need for patience and fortitude in a difficult, fiscally unsure world, but offers music and fellowship as useful, helpful tools to deal with these problems. The resulting prescription seems logical, self-fulfilling, and well-delivered in the tracks on this album.
- By J. Evan Wade