Steeped in Americana, West Coast outfit the Waybacks are able to meld Appalachian or mountain music with a summery "jam band" feeling for most of this record. Whether it is the somewhat catchy "City Boy," with its somewhat odd bridge, or the mellow "Nice to Be Alone," the group is content to let the melodies do most of the work. But sometimes the laid-back Jack Johnson-ish melodies don't quite measure up, especially on the winding and somewhat meandering "The River," which has some fleeting quality moments. Thankfully, things get back on track with the leaner pop-country of "Good Enough," bringing Jimmy Buffett or Dire Straits to mind. Meanwhile, the group seems to shine during the tranquil, placid "Savannah" with its swinging Django-like hue, and the honky tonk effort "Tired of Being Right." Probably the dark horse or sleeper on this folk-pop album is the swaying waltz-like Celtic-leaning number "Beyond the Northwest Passage," in the vein of the Pogues or Flogging Molly. Following the cinematic violin introduction of "Black Cat," the Waybacks move into a klezmer-meets-bluegrass feel with interesting results.
by Jason MacNeil