Because the cover art is so eloquent of darkness, somnolence, and foggily moody memories, I wasn't sure what to make of things when the first cut to The Art of Troublesome Times started out bright and perky. Then Don Gallardo's very Weir/Garcia-ish voice broke in, and I understood: Troublesome is primarily a highly Grateful Dead-esque ensemble…and I mean a piece of the prime, 100%, drop-dead, on-it pre-Terrapin Station ilk but also with touches of that epochal meeting with Paul Buckmaster (as in this disc's Broken), not to mention what occurred after. Makes sense: Gallardo hailed from Marin County, and he and his sibs spent many hours listening to prime 70s LPs with their parents.
Then the lion's share of the rest of the group, a sextet, joins in on the background vocals, and it's bliss deluxe (The River & the Promise Land), Kyle Everson's pedal steel next proceeding to peal out lines that dance on the edge of orthodoxy with just enough chutzpah to make you widen your eyes and smile. There's a healthy chunk of The Band rearing its backwoods head every so often as well, but, surprise of surprises, The Ohio Goodbye has traces of Space Opera in it too, a decidedly progressive slant. After that's gone by, Paper Heart calls back Batdorf & Rodney for a moment. One way or the other, though, Deadheads are going to rejoice because very few groups are able to attain to this level of expertise in order to craft a sound so redolent of Jerry 'n da boys' Fillmore days so damned capably and then take things a step further. Far as I'm concerned, there's no problem in getting too much of a good thing, and as my enamorment with the Deaders grows ever stronger with time, work like this only adds luster to the entire milieu.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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