CD review

The Assembly Of Dust

By Written by Tommy Hallissey

In the year 2000, guitarist and songwriter Reid Genauer abruptly left Strangefolk, a band he started with friend and fellow UVM student Jon Trafton, to go back to school to earn his masters degree. An odd maneuver, to say the least, as Strangefolk appeared to be at the cusp of the late nineties jam band wave. Constantly on the road, Genauer said, he felt like a stranger in his own life and the only way he could regain control was to get off the bus. Strangefolk trudged on with a few new members and the addition of a keyboardist. Genauer went to class but could never quite shake the music bug. Slowly, Genauer began playing a few small solo shows in New England. But before long he assembled a band and began a new musical journey.

The band goes by the name of Reid Genauer and The Assembly of Dust, stemming from a counterculture movement that originated in the Middle Ages that perhaps has origins in mythology. At the core of it is the notion of congregating with a bunch of likeminded people to lose yourself and step away from the rigors of daily life by listening and playing music, Genauer told The line-up features a veritable who's who of the New England jam scene, friends whose paths have crossed countless times and who have shared the stage on numerous occasions - keyboardist Nate Wilson and bassist John Leccese of Percy Hill; guitarist Adam Terrell of Groove Child, and drummer Andy Herrick of Moon Boot Lover.

Wilson is a lost treasure in the jam scene, a phenomenal keyboardist in the oft forgotten band Percy Hill. And by God, he shines on this disc. Wilson's keyboard work is fierce and funky, even subtle at times.

The album is as comfortable as a weather-beaten flannel shirt. As a whole, the disc is a passive listen, background music for a Sunday drive. It is no accident that Genauer's name appears on the top of the bill. The vocal presence and lyrical sensibility of Genauer is what drives the Assembly. Genauer's voice has a real American quality to it, a human quality; he sings with conviction, emotion, and passion all too rare in the jamband genre.

Incidentally, Reid sounds fresh outside of the context of Strangefolk, which had grown stale a long time ago. "Sideways Train" is the standout track on the album, a slow jaunt with a slight twang and lyrics that make a man think. May soul encounter soul on the cross-town train, puts a different spin on your typical overcrowded subway ride. Think a country-influenced tune that will be sure to rent space in your head. "Tavern Walker" is also of note - a catchy tune with fat, thick grooves, a carefree narrative that quickly turns corny with the backup singers gracing the choruses. "Etta James" is a quaint mythical tale, nothing too sharp but cozy all the same; a simple upbeat tune that showcases Genauer's storytelling acumen. "Love Junkie" boasts a slow funky groove that leads into a twirling build up, all the while Herrick pounds away, offering an array of varied beats.

Far and away the backup singers are the Achilles heal of the album. Time and again they make me wince during songs I enjoy. Not to say that the backup singers are bad vocalists, it is just that their presence is far too overstated and they come damn near close to wrecking the entire album. But Genauer's storytelling ability and vocal presence is what fuels the album top to bottom, showing the music world that he damn sure doesn't belong in business school.