[11 February 2008]
Soul, country, funk, Skynyrd-ish boogie, blues… Baltimore’s The Bridge dabbles in a deep-fried recipe book of Southern styles, but rarely musters the grit to make them real. “Get Back Up, ” the album’s opening salvo, is a blues-y slow jam, singer Cris Jacobs, a lot like last year’s Catfish Hunter CD, though embellished with some pretty smoking organ by Citizen Cope’s John Ginty. “14 Days” has an almost gospel lilt to it, all tight harmonies and jangly acoustic guitar, and “Flats of the Old Avenue”, one of two written by mandolin player Kenny Liner, has a hymn-like country simplicity. “Easy Jane”, later in the album, is an almost letter-perfect evocation of Little Feat, all easy going bounce and Dixie charm. It’s all fine, the musicianship is pretty good—both the core band and guests Russell Batiste Jr. (The Funky Meters), Mookie Siegel and Ginty—and it’s probably fun live. Still the edges are a little too clean, the solos a little too pat to push the album over. The band lets loose just once, in the scorching “Bad Locomotive,” the guitar lead abrasive, the organ smooth and luxurious, the verse leading smokily into soul-charged explosions. It’s the best song on an album that just misses, as urgent as the rest is laid-back. Next time, why not let it loose?