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Artist: Drew Emmitt
Label: Compass Records
Across the Bridge is the second solo release from Leftover Salmon vocalist and mandolin player Drew Emmitt. Fans of that band know to expect newgrass/jam band stylings from any Emmitt project, and Across the Bridge does not disappoint in that regard. In some ways, the disc is like a mini-Merlefest, featuring Emmitt on vocals, but also receiving contributions from Sam Bush, John Cowan, Matt Flinner, Del and Ronnie McCoury, Stuart Duncan, and Jim Lauderdale, not to mention a guest vocal by Paul Barrere of Little Feat.
Emmitt's approach is a lot like that of his younger counterpart Chris Thile (Nickel Creek): sing, play the heck out of the mandolin, explore several genres, and somehow make it all hang together. "Meet Me in the Morning" is a country take on an old Bob Dylan tune, while "Big Ice" and "Silvanite" are instrumentals that could have been performed by the Dillards on "The Andy Griffith Show."
"All That You Dream," with Barrere on vocals, would have fit it on the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Emmitt's own vocals, strangely, recall the early days of REO Speedwagon, walking the line between country and guitar rock.
So is Across the Bridge bluegrass? Americana? Newgrass? Rock? Country? Yes. This is a cross section of the American South, incorporating all of those styles and more, leaving the listener engaged, and wondering what may come next. If you asked me, I'd prefer Emmitt's solo work to that of his day job with Leftover Salmon.
Brian A. Smith 8/1/2005