Trey Anastasio

Trey Anastasio

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Playing a more active leadership role than on Phish albums and his own previous solo efforts, Trey Anastasio tips his hand by branding this album with his own name and building it around a new, show-oriented band. There's less left to chance and more control evident in his use of written arrangements. Some of the miniaturist moments, such as the sober intro to "At the Gazebo," reflect an ear for nuance in strings as well as brass parts. Equally impressive, if only in terms of endurance, is "Last Tube," with jazz lion Nicholas Payton blowing lightning licks over a roaring, one-chord clip. Even so, Anastasio keeps things groovy with his amiably nasal vocals and Summer of Love guitar solos; the result is an agreeable balance of loose feel and tight execution on most tracks, quite similar in feel to what Michael Bloomfield achieved with the Electric Flag, especially on "Push on 'Til the Day." While the artifact quality and live vibe of this music come as no surprise, the show band emphasis of Trey Anastasio suggests that this artist may be placing a little less faith in the voodoo of improvisation and more in the payoff guaranteed by musicians who can tear up the same charts night after night. As Joni Mitchell forecast, something is lost but something is gained in the effort.

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