Tea Leaf Green

Taught to Be Proud

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Jam band Tea Leaf Green clearly has spent a considerable amount of time listening to their fellow San Francisco-based predecessors the Grateful Dead. The quartet plays in a country-rock style with classic rock passages that strongly recalls the Dead's hybrid sound, circa the 1970s. Taught to Be Proud is a studio album on which none of the tracks run much more than six minutes and some are under four, but it's easy to tell during the instrumental breaks in, for example, the title song and "Ride Together" that the band has enough musical chemistry to extend those passages into lengthy improvisations in concert. The brevity of the studio recordings, however, places more of an emphasis on the songs, all written by singer/keyboard player Trevor Garrod. Garrod's poetic, self-reflective lyrics exhibit the influence of the Dead's Robert Hunter in their nature imagery and references to marginal figures and mavericks, with hoboes and gamblers making their expected appearances. But Garrod also evidences an apparent religious/spiritual leaning, with lines about being reborn, reincarnation, and the coming of "the rapture." It's not clear how much of this he deliberately intends to be interpreted in a fundamentalist or evangelical way, but he is using terms that are a part of those religious groups' vocabulary. That's not enough to place Tea Leaf Green in the CCM section of record stores, however. Rather, this is a record for jam band fans, specifically those who long for the days of Workingman's Dead.

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