Like a 1970s country-rock band without the accents or heavy-duty amplifiers, the Donkeys offer up a sun-streaked batch of acoustic guitars, harmonies, and laid-back rhythmic shuffle on their second LP. It's difficult to hear music this nostalgic without riffling through a list of soundalikes, and the Donkeys inevitably draw comparisons to bands that pioneered such a hazy California sound, particularly the Grateful Dead and the Eagles. The Donkeys don't flaunt many Garcia-sized jams during Living on the Other Side, however, nor are their harmonies polished to a spit-shining glow like the Hotel California architects. Instead, Living on the Other Side features 11 tracks that amble along at a comfortable pace, from the harmony-rich "Walk Through a Cloud" (one of the band's strongest combinations of country influence and breezy pop sensibilities) to the trippy, sitar-filled strains of "Dreamin'." Elsewhere, the band makes room for pillow-soft rock ("Traverse Wine") and stomping campfire singalongs ("Bye Bye Baby"), seemingly content to explore the detours and backroads of country-rock without losing sight of the main thoroughfare. While some groups take a self-consciously retro approach to their craft, Living on the Other Side is uncalculated and unassuming its delivery, evoking an earlier era without dressing the band in Glenn Frey's castoff threads from the Desperado cover shoot. It's also incredibly tuneful, which makes the Donkeys' second effort an enjoyable summer album.
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey