At the end of 1999, the three members of Salamander Crossing decided to go their separate ways, ending eight years of collaboration and performing together. Henry Street: A Retrospective is a generous collection that documents Salamander Crossing's first two albums, Salamander Crossing and Passion Train, with the addition of several bonus tracks. The core of the band is made up of bassist/vocalist Andrew Kinsey, fiddle player/vocalist Rani Arbo, and guitarist/mandolinist/vocalist Jeff Kelliher. A crisp acoustic sound and strong vocals, complete with smooth harmony, characterize Salamander Crossing. Rani Arbo's vocals are particularly expressive, bringing a touch of sadness and longing to songs like Sean Vernon's "I Believed in Love." The slow, melancholy "Thief" proves perfect for her emotive delivery. The group also sings a number of songs together, as on the minor-keyed "Fire in the Sky," with beautiful contrasting harmony, featuring Arbo singing above Kinsey's lead. One bonus track, "Old Woman Lament," begins like a gospel number, only to turn into an acoustic rocker, grounded with a heavy, pounding bassline. The musicianship throughout is first class, with Arbo's bluesy fiddle proving just right for songs like "The New Madera Waltz" and Kelliher's guitar adding extra pizzazz to "Trip Me Up." Like the Whites, Salamander Crossing distinguishes themselves with good song choices and concise harmony. They also have the same ability as the Whites to combine bluegrass and folk into a silky acoustic hybrid. Henry Street: A Retrospective provides a good snapshot of the band's early musical journey, and should be a great place to start for those unfamiliar with the band. Fans are sure to hear good things from the talented individuals of Salamander Crossing in the near future.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2