CD review

Celebrity Cafe
Celebrity Cafe
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ASSEMBLY OF DUST makes its studio debut with the artful "Recollection," out now on Hybrid Recordings. Since the release of their 2005 live disc, "The Honest Hour," AOD has earned the respect of their peers and racked up an impressive roster of support slots and sold-out club dates, in addition to marquee dates at Carnegie Hall (in honor of Joni Mitchell), Bonnaroo, and World Cafi with David Dye. "Recollection" marries the quintet's musicianship with a focused song craft that recalls the intricate looseness of canonical recordings such as "The Band's Music From Big Pink," Steely Dan's "Pretzel Logic" and even Paul Simon's "Graceland." Theres not a track on the "Recollection" that doesnt resonate as genuine, timeless, and substantive, with finely drawn characters that stick in your mind and stories of life lessons learned the hard way.

Led by singer/songwriter and Strangefolk co-founder Reid Genauer, Recollection is the perfect summation of the band's career to date: ten road-tested songs about love, loss and living, as on the album standout "Telling Sue," a deceptively upbeat song about the drudgeries of the nine-to-five world. I think any art form is most successful when it reflects or replays elements of life that people can relate to, says Genauer. You may not have an epiphany listening to our music, but odds are you will find a reflection of your life experience or an emotion that you can own hiding in the recesses.

While Genauer and keyboardist Nate Wilson handle the primary songwriting duties, AOD is a collaborative affair. Lead guitarist Adam Terrell, bassist John Leccese and drummer Andy Herrick each put their stamp on the group's songs with their instrumental virtuosity and extensive experience, with all five players blending effortlessly in a way that recalls the intuitive feel of fellow touring acts such as the Black Crowes, Drive-By Truckers and My Morning Jacket. At the same time, there's a tasteful simplicity to the arrangements and an intimate feel to the recordings, such as Genauers pure vocals on "The Honest Hour," a beautifully stripped-down track that recalls the fragile tenderness of Josh Rouse coupled with the careworn quality of Ray LaMontagne.

The five men, along with longtime collaborator Josh Pryor, recorded Recollection at Thundering Skystudios during six weeks of a stark Maine winter. In that isolated, comfortable atmosphere, Pryor and Assembly of Dust recreated the organic and emotional atmosphere of their live shows, injecting energy and a sense of immediacy to these recordings. The result is a soulful and sincere collection that will foster more than a few recollections among fans of honest and authentic music.

Genauer explains, If I were to find one consistent theme of all the music we enjoy and try to emulate, its that it walks the line between beautiful and bad-ass. Granted, its a fine line. I think, or at least I hope, that we have found the balance.