The Bridge - Blind Man's Hill

As impressive as The Bridge has been over the course of their brief career, it seems we're just seeing the surface of what they can do.
Blind Man's Hill is a crystal clear sonic statement of this Baltimore band's expansive vision. It reveals their fully realized powers in quick, cutting bursts of funked-up country rock, sometimes dipping farther into the well of a particular style, but never settling there.

The band's wide range of abilities is showcased in the first 10 minutes. "Honey Bee" is as funky as it wants to be, with popping snare hits, body-shaking rhythms laced with sax, and steamy vocals, while "Let Me Off This Train" more prominently features the mandolin and acoustic guitar with chugging country rhythms and impassioned vocals over a strolling bass line. Cris Jacobs emerges as a formidable vocal talent throughout, shining on songs with righteous lyrics like "Old White Lightning 95" and the foreboding "Devil On Me." "Devil In Me" is an engaging tune that delves into blues, jazz, world music, and rock simultaneously, rising from a sullen dirge to a triumphant climax. "Bury My Bones In Baltimore" sounds so timeless that it could have been written a century ago, and "Born' Ramblin" has a pleasant roughness that meshes lap steel, mandolin, and self-referential vocals to create a modern-day folk tune. The album almost drifts too far into folk/country territory before the driving "Diggin' in the Cold Ground" adds some needed electricity. "Heavy Water" also has a bluesy intensity, but it is also heavily spiked with bayou imagery and R&B energy. "Lasting Hymn" is an appropriate closer, a gentle palate-cleanser placed perfectly after the wild ride the listener just took.

While the band hasn't lost their trademark diversity, there's a lot more substance here than their previous albums - and they even dropped the beatboxing for this record. Blind Man's Hill is a significantly serious step for a band that is rapidly ascending the ranks of the music world.

--Bryan Rodgers