In a city that's home to as many fine pickers as Nashville, it takes something special to become a local legend, and the Time Jumpers have earned a large and loyal following in Music City for their loving, lively take on classic Western Swing and old-school country. Formed by a handful of first-call session musicians eager to play for the fun of it, the Time Jumpers have been holding down a Monday night gig at Nashville's Station Inn since 1998, and in 2007 they released a live album, Jumpin' Time, that captured their easygoing energy in front of an appreciative audience. Their self-titled sophomore release is something of a different animal; it's the first studio set from the Time Jumpers, and while covers dominated the live album, nine of the twelve songs here are originals written by members of the group. The band has also gone through a few significant personnel changes; legendary pedal steel player John Hughey passed on shortly after Jumpin' Time reached stores, with his friend Paul Franklin taking his place, while bona fide Nashville star Vince Gill has joined the lineup. Gill wrote five of the nine originals on The Time Jumpers and sings lead on most of them, but his guitar work blends comfortably with the group's retro sound, and he clearly respects this music far too much to hog the spotlight. Gill's songs evoke vintage Nashville sounds rather than the Texas-centric vibe of the live set, but "The Woman of My Dreams" and "On the Outskirts of Town" are perfect for these players, and "Faint of Heart" is a heck of a torch song (and Dawn Sears gives it a superb vocal reading). Elsewhere, Doug Green (better known as Ranger Doug of Riders in the Sky) contributes a pitch-perfect sagebrush number in "Ridin' On the Rio," the fiddlers get their time to shine on "Texoma Bound," "Nothin' But the Blues" is worthy of Bob Wills himself, and if "Texas On a Saturday Night" doesn't make you long for a roadhouse in the Lone Star state, you may not be all that big on this country music stuff in the first place. The Time Jumpers doesn't come close to catching the excitement of the group on-stage, but it admirably documents their superb instrumental abilities as well as a genuine sense of fun, and with Gill on board as a songwriter, they're no longer beholden to the past for fresh material, which bodes well for their future.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming