Like okra, Carbon Leaf is a Southern-style acquired taste. Still, by the time they released Ether-Electrified Porch Music, they're having moments that can and do inspire listeners to become fans, as on "American Tale." Sometimes it takes repeat play to get into the sound, but they have a way of growing on their audience, and getting listeners to like them. "Blue Ridge Laughing" has Barry Privett's characteristically surreal lyrics, and a catchy chorus, on one of their more laid-back songs. In their less developed efforts, Carbon Leaf is still working on shaking the jam band-trying-to-make-good image, and they can be a bit repetitious, as on "Aurora." "Clannanhide" is another cut that still could use more work on becoming clearly defined. "Nowadays" tells the tale of 20-something loneliness, as old friends marry and go away, so they do sometimes perform songs that are more than word collages of pleasing sounds. In other cases, what they have is enjoyable, like with "Home." The second half kicks in and really rocks -- if only they'd have gotten to that a bit sooner. Hang in with this one until the tempo picks up, and right there, Carbon Leaf starts realizing some of their potential. "Ordinary Eyes" is another one to their credit, with some interesting tempo changes. Fans may want to compare this version with their live performance on the EP American Tale to see which version they like better. Overall, the good news is that they've matured quite a bit since the release of their earlier album Meander, and the addition of Jordan Medas' bass playing is a definite plus. Ether-Electrified Porch Music is an encouraging addition to Carbon Leaf's albums, and worth picking up a copy.
AllMusic Review by Murrday Fisher