For their third outing, Railroad Earth stretch the parameters of bluegrass even further than before -- to be more precise, they use the instrumentation in different contexts, as on "Mourning Flies," a song that wouldn't sound out of place on a Crowded House record, a wonderful little slice of thoughtful, intelligent pop music. But it's the songwriting that's the key to this album. After two discs discovering themselves and their sound, the guys are obviously ready to take a big leap. They've shed the country-rock stylings of the last record to produce songs that, while still lightly countrified, court a more popish arena, such as the sweet ballad "In the Basement." That's not to say they can't enjoy the kind of good, brisk breakdown they bring to "Water Fountain Quicksand," where they get to show their increasingly impressive chops. At times they're reminiscent of the Grateful Dead in the way they refused to be categorized while still making indubitably American music, while "Said What You Mean" is as good as anything the early Eagles ever wrote. While they continue to grow and keep using acoustic instrumentation, you have to wonder if it's just a matter of time before they need to expand their tonal colors even more to fit their writing. And keep the disc playing for the untitled extra track, too.
Performance CreditsRailroad Earth Primary Artist
Todd Sheaffer Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,national steel guitar,Group Member
Andy Goessling Banjo,Bouzouki,Dobro,Flute,Guitar,Mandolin,Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Ukulele,12-string Guitar,Slide Guitar,Marxophone,Group Member
Tim Careone Harmonica,Piano,Violin,Accordion,Electric Guitar,Harmonium,Viola,Background Vocals,Toy Piano,Group Member
Technical CreditsStewart Lerman Producer
Railroad Earth Composer,Producer
Mike Partridge Live Sound
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Good Life based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Playing Time – 58:09 -- From New Jersey, Railroad Earth formed in 2001, as a result of live sessions at the Pocono Bluegrass Society open mics. They recorded a five-song demo and were immediately booked at the Telluride, High Sierra and Grey Fox Festivals where they were compared to The New Grass Revival. Band. Members include Andy Groessling, Tim Carbone , John Skehan, Carey Harmon, Johnny Grubb, and Todd Schaeffer . Previous bassist Dave Von Dollen has apparently left the group to be replaced by Grubb. Schaeffer was a founding member of a band called From Good Homes (which recorded for RCA), and Groessling and Carbone formerly had a group called The Blue Sparks from Hell The band’s first album, The Black Bear Sessions (BOS Music was released in 2001. “Bird in a House” was their 2002 highly-acclaimed sophomore effort. That project actually left me with a more indelible impression than their latest release, but I’m sure that “The Good Life” will surely grow on me with repeated listening. “The Good Life” is an arousing and insightful collection of eleven original songs, primarily from the creative pen of Todd Schaeffer. The band’s unique signature sound combines a variety of acoustic and electric instruments with drums in arrangements that emphasize meaningful messages while creating a musical mood with hopping rhythms, compelling vocals, engaging riffs and enchanting fills. Best described as an eclectic jam band, their uplifting and happy songs are a nice respite from so much sadness, blues and sorrow in today’s music. We need more songs like Railroad Earth’s optimist tales about being positive, living the good life, going back to the country, finding success and true love, despite all the hardships faced along the way. It’s nice to see lyrics included in The Good Life’s album’s jacket, and a song like “Goat” tells us how to get fear, violence and hate out of our lives by running “this goat right out of town.” With a distinctive stamp on today’s music scene, Railroad Earth displays the raw energy, talent and emotion of an innovative band like Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys demonstrated when they first took the stage in the 1940s. With a full touring schedule, good airplay and the support of the Sugar Hill label, Railroad Earth is destined to leave a lasting impression. Only time will tell if my prophecy comes true. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)
Imagine a 60's Byrds type vibe, with one part New Grass revival, a pinch of Grateful Dead-esque jam sounds, a dollop of Neil Young inspired rock topped off with evocative roots/pop songwriting, and there you have this album. This album pulls together the best ingredients of many different genres to make an incredible record that you can’t help but to play it the whole way through. The album is unique in that it is very fun and yet retains an enormous amount of integrity. “Storms” is a beautiful and fun intro for this album (and my personal favorite). The album also contains bluegrass jams like “Bread and Water” and more melodic tunes like “Say What You Mean.” This is a beautifully written feel good album and I would recommend it to any music fan.
After two good albums, it isn't at all surprising that Railroad Earth has returned with another; what may surprise some is how good this one is. Wonderfully talented musicians, as always, but the songs here are catchy and much more likely to appeal to a wider audience.