Jubilee, from the word jubilant, is a perfect description for the music of Bonepony. The band's three members -- multi-instrumentalists Nicolas Nguyen, Scott Johnson, and Tramp -- sound truly happy creating their music, a blend of acoustic/electric instrumentation and a combination of a myriad of traditional influences that make for a joyful noise indeed. Jubilee is Bonepony's fourth album and the band's most ambitious effort to date, the talented trio expanding and improving on their sound with the help of several guest musicians, including drummer Craig Krampf, bassists Kelley Looney and Bob Wray, and violinist Chris Carmichael. Jubilee opens with a brief pastoral passage leading into the title track, a gleeful celebration of life and a proclamation of carpe diem that sets the stage for the rest of the album. "My Sunshine" features Johnson's hiccuped vocals alongside joyful harmonies in a spry romantic allegory. Tramp's mountain-styled mandola riffing opens "To Mend a Broken Heart," a mournful recounting of love's little tragedies set to finely crafted instrumentation while "Traveler's Companion" revisits the road-weary theme of an earlier album, the funky Bakersfield shuffle reminiscent of Little Feat. "Waiting on a Train" is a dark-hued tale flexing the intensity of the Delta blues, guest Nanci Griffith's beautiful voice standing in stark contrast to Johnson's somber tone. Jubilee closes with two magnificent tracks that define to the uninitiated exactly what Bonepony is all about. "Twenty More People" sounds at first like a dirge, picking up steam like Savoy Brown's legendary "Hellbound Train" until Johnson's chorus -- "over there, over there/I'll bet there's 20 more people want to hear my song" -- jumps out of the mix amid a chaotic swirl of manic instrumentation. The song is a reaffirmation of both the trials and the jubilation of being in a rock & roll band. Bonepony then rips into "Small World," an unbelievable instrumental achievement, the band and friends cutting loose in the studio and delivering a three-minute "jam" that includes elements of rock, country, blues, and bluegrass alongside strains of Middle Eastern and African music. "Small World" manages to spotlight the trio's immense instrumental chops as well as pointing the way toward a possible future musical direction. With Jubilee, Bonepony prove that they may be underrated, but they're certainly not overpraised.
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AllMusic Review by Rev. Keith A. Gordon