CD review

Jam Vetern Returns with 'Honest Hour'

By Written by Jared Newman
Music Review
October 1,2004

The reality of Reid Genauer's situation is that he doesn't really belong in a jam band. The singer/songwriter whose roots are based in Vermont jam band Strangefolk is so prolific that his performances are captivating even as a solo acoustic act. But when Genauer surrounds himself with other musicians, he sometimes takes a back seat to the musical muscle flexing of the jam.

Fortunately, his latest group, Assembly of Dust, is capable enough to put on a great show that, yes, does include a few jams here and there. The band's second album, The Honest Hour, is comprised entirely of live tracks for that very reason. The combination of shorter folk rock songs with a few extended solos and jams works well in showcasing the bands cohesiveness. Make no mistake, however this is Genauer's show. It's hard not to notice his voice, which is clean and strangely Southern for a Vermont man. He's got a knack for songwriting too, using phrases like Well-healed girl, Borrowed light from the moon and Blinking possibilities shuddered that sound just right coming from his throat.

The band defines their sound as Hick Funk, but Folk Rock Done Right seems more fitting for this set of nine songs. Though the melodies are clear-cut, Genauer's songs rarely stick in the brain like other folk tunes. Instead, there tends to be scattered passages of melodic and rhythmic greatness. These parts are blissful, but there are instances of mediocrity as well, usually when the songwriting becomes overly simple. Nonetheless, songs like the opener Man With a Plan are great all the way through.

Then there's the jamming. Drummer Andrew Herrick and bassist John Leccese hold up a good groove, but lead guitarist Adam Terrell isn't inventive enough to keep things interesting he's more functional as filler, adding licks here and there between vocal passages. Still, he has a great chemistry with keyboardist Nate Wilson, whose keyboard chops are always a pleasure to hear, especially when he takes the center stage.

All in all, The Honest Hour can be long-winded or boring at times, but the high points more than make up for these moments. Anyone who wants to see what Reid Genauer is capable of should pick up a copy.