Infamous Stringdusters

REVIEW: The Infamous Stringdusters “Toward the Fray”


The Infamous Stringdusters — Toward the Fray

The Infamous Stringdusters turn their bluegrass, jam, and rock stylings on darker vistas while maintaining promise of redemption on Toward the Fray. Album art heralding a postapocalyptic future in its haunting imagery belies the primarily buoyant tones that hide inside as if hope burns eternal in the human heart no matter the darkness of the times. The Infamous Stringdusters, Travis Book (bass), Andy Falco (guitar), Jeremy Garrett (fiddle), Andy Hall (Dobro), and Chris Pandolfi (banjo), wrote and shared songs remotely through the Covid pandemic in stark contrast to their usually live writing and recording habits. The collection loses none of the group’s usual energy through this unusual remote situation.

“Down from the Mountain” expresses a common attitude when the tendency is to draw close to loved ones and pull back from society during dark times, “Don’t wanna come down…when I’m higher than the world below, don’t wanna come down…the Rocky Mountains ease my soul.” From the safety of this mountain retreat, “Hard Line” examines difficulties in miscommunication. Let’s “find our way out of the flood of lies, before we both drown,” goes the plea to encourage someone to give up their hard line and give a little. The instrumental “Revolution” rings true to its name as it jukes and jumps from one sonic holler to another letting dobro, fiddle, or banjo fight for the lead at different points in the journey forward before collapsing back into a collective of soothing tones.

“Spirit Wild” plays out like an anthem to the band’s ethos and fellow road dogs everywhere, “It’s more than just the traveling, It’s an aching in my soul.”

The Infamous Stringdusters clearly weathered the pandemic well and are itching to get back on the road. Recorded by Colin Bricker at Mighty Fine Productions, mastered by Glenn Schick, and with special guest Mark Levy (drums) on “I Didn’t Know” and “I’m Not Alone,” Toward the Fray showcases The Infamous Stringdusters’ latest expansion on their tried-and-true mix of traditionally and progressive bluegrass. Pick up a copy of Toward the Fray, out now on the band’s own American Vibes label, and catch the band on the road sometime soon.

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