The Infamous Stringdusters: Let It Go
In 2014, the notion that a bluegrass band can swim into genres outside the realm dictated by their instruments isn’t breaking news. Yonder Mountain String Band are kings of the jamband scene, transcending the obligatory “bluegrass booking” at summer festivals. Railroad Earth have fully embraced an earthy, rocking sound. Or take a look at the up-and-coming Rumpke Mountain Boys, who’ve dubbed their frantic, liquored sound “trashgrass.” The trend is to push bluegrass to more experimental, stretched-out territory, to blast off from the back porch to the far reaches of the musical universe. But then, there’s The Infamous Stringdusters, who do quite the opposite: the Nashville-born quintet rein in the frayed ends of bluegrass, creating impossibly tight, wildly catchy pop packages. But simplified doesn’t mean simple; with 11 songs in less than 40 minutes, Let It Go doesn’t contain one note of excess. Every second is a crucial piece of the album. And as such, the ‘Dusters paint themselves as maybe the most progressive of the bunch. With Travis Book on bass, Andy Falco on guitar, Jeremy Garrett on fiddle, Andy Hall on Dobro and Chris Pandolfi on banjo,
The Infamous Stringdusters’ latest is a masterwork of vocal and instrumental prowess, and most of all, songwriting. Where 2012’s Silver Sky toyed with slower, darker tones through production by hip-hop producer Billy Hume, Let It Go was self-produced, and finds the band sharpening their focus. On “Where the Rivers Run Cold,” Garrett’s voice is gentle, but affirming: “If I look like I’m weary, it’s only for now. I’ll get my rest in the ground. There’s a lot left to do…before my last sun comes around.” Book’s bass enters, and suddenly, a gust of harmonies blow in—as if the music is there to lift up Garrett’s message. Those intertwined voices are the band’s secret weapon; time and again, the album’s fresh-faced melodies take flight on powerful, precise gang vocals. “Summercamp” throws that strength into a playful, fiddle-led romp about “When we were young, and life was all rhythm.” Live, the band plays U2,
Police and Phish covers. They know how to jam and get loose. But the Stringdusters recognize that the most important part of any band’s work—bluegrass or otherwise—is the songs. And with Let It Go, they introduce 11 new ones that don’t waste any time making a home inside your head.