When a member of a long established, well respected band releases a solo album on the heels of a release by the band, it raises a question… Does the solo project sound like the band’s work or does it take the listener in to uncharted waters and new directions?
The answer to this question in regard to Jeremy Garrett’s forthcoming Organic Records release, The River Wild is a resounding YES! River Wild releases everywhere on March 25,2022. River Wild was produced by Garrett and engineered, mixed, and mastered by Scott Barnett at Crossroads Studios (Arden, NC). Vocal tracks recorded at Storm Mountain Studio (Loveland, CO).
I’m going to be very upfront here, that I have been a fan of The Infamous Stringdusters and specifically Garrett for many years. Due to this, I was really excited to see how Garrett made River Wild his own. While there is a familiar feel to this album, it is also not simply an ‘all Jeremy’ The Infamous Stringdusters release. Garrett hand picked and assembled an all-star lineup for River Wild while reaching back into his song catalog selecting material going back as far as ten years. River Wild is a full length, twelve song album consisting of four instrumentals and eight tracks with vocals (seven originals all written or co-written by Garrett and a new spin on a classic Bill Monroe song).
Some of the musicians Garrett picked to accompany him on this journey down the river wild include Seth Taylor (guitar), Alan Bibey (mandolin), Ryan Cavanaugh (banjo), Gena Britt (banjo), Russ Carson (banjo), Travis Book (bass), Barry Bales (bass), Andy Hall (dobro), Lou Reid (tenor vocals), and Josh Shilling (harmony vocals).
From the opening notes of “I Am the River Wild,” the closest thing to a title track on the album, Garrett makes it known that “I got my own mind, I got my own will.” This song and the rest of album makes that point very clear. One of the top fiddle players in the business, Garrett makes apparent why he’s at the top of the mountain when it comes to fiddle players and demonstrates the fact that he has no intention of coming down from the top anytime soon.
“I Am the River Wild” also showcases the power of Garrett’s vocal range and ability. Definitely my current favorite off the album, it is amazing to listen and hear Garrett transition from a fairly traditional modern bluegrass/jamgrass vocal styling as he sings the verses only to step almost into 90s grunge on the chorus while channeling his inner Layne Staley (think “Brother”) and back to bluegrass. Musically and lyrically, this is one of the strongest songs on an album with no lightweights. This one will give you goosebumps!
Some other highlights on River Wild include a profound statement that it is time for all of us not to stand idly by because things don’t impact us in “Time to Get In to the Change.” “Through the years, you’re focused on little things / Missing the bigger things outside / When it ends, will you be happier / Looking past the barriers of pride / Here we are stuck in this moment of time / Let’s take all the mystery out of our history Leaving the ashes behind.”
And “In the Blink of an Eye” which again highlights Garrett’s vocal prowess. Garrett’s vocals are haunting throughout the entirety, as is the music. This one takes the listener someplace magical, terrifying, and inspiring all at once. I definitely see “In the Blink of an Eye” being a vehicle to segue into some amazing jam space live in shows.
The lone cover on the album, Bill Monroe’s “Kentucky Waltz” is Garrett’s own stamp on a standard. I have a strong dislike for covers where it is evident that the artist covering the song is trying to be someone trying to play like the original artist. Not Garrett. Here he plays “Kentucky Waltz” in his own style, making it both a beautiful tribute to a master while taking the listeners on a new path to get to a familiar place.
River Wild is not a just a bluegrass album, but rather rooted in bluegrass with countless explorations in all directions musically, some that are hard to define but will have you enthralled from the first notes of “I Am the River Wild” all the way to the ending of the album’s last instrumental “Burning the Slash” which consists of just Garrett on the fiddle. River Wild is available on all platforms March 25, 2022. Also available on Garrett’s web sites (http://www.garrettgrass.com and http://www.fiddlescience.com).