The Rifters – The Enchanted World
So, while not exactly a trio dating college girls or jumping off the stage into crowds this New Mexico trio brings superb playing & wonderful songs. The CD is pleasantly packaged with a beautiful 16-page full-color lyric insert with stunning photography.
The 14 songs on The Rifters’ The Enchanted World (Drops April 28–Howlin’ Dog Records) showcase Rod Taylor (guitar/resonator guitar/acoustic guitar/mandolin/lead vocals), Jim Bradley (bass/bowed string bass/lead & harmony vocals) & Don Richmond (Weissenborn slide, lap, pedal steel & 12 string electric guitars/organ/mandolin/dobro/harmonica/fiddle/banjo/harmonica/accordion/lead & harmony vocals).
Their 7th CD of Southwestern Americana provides rhythmic acoustic-based music with harmonies that sing of landscapes – the ranching west, finding a way through the days we live, the challenges that come with maturity, environmental concerns & everyday survival — like paying bills. No matter how bad things get it’s still an enchanted world.
There’s a tendency to reminisce of days when we were younger & listening to the Pure Prairie League, Ozark Mountain Daredevils & early Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It’s a musical experience that caresses your ears & is hard to forget. Some use words to describe this as organic or rural — but it’s actually panorama music. It conjures twilights, breezes through trees, cool running streams, burning wood, falling autumn leaves, coming eye to eye for a moment with a wild animal & moving on peacefully.
Not all music is played to be analyzed but enjoyed — in the spirit in which it was made. As The Grateful Dead said. The music isn’t challenging just heartwarming with descriptions in the lyrics that convey a more sensible world not bogged down by competition, business, or deceit.
My introduction to this music came early with Jerry Jeff Walker, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot’s earthier songs & definitely John Hartford. The Rifters preserve the genre & surprise with songs like “The Perfect Dance,” with its addition of a warm clarinet to an otherwise country-accordion dance tune. The sawdust’s the same, the punch is spicier, & the older women still make the best peach cobbler. Isn’t that what Americana is about?
“Tres Pies,” has a nice mandolin Old And In the Way feel (Jerry Garcia with David Grisman) & ensemble vocalizing. Changes the style slightly. “Nothing Is Free,” & “That Lucky Old Sun” both are the most accessible to city ears. The dark exploration of “At the Rail,” has a warm deep Waylon Jennings-type narration. Quite cool.
Highlights – “The Circle,” “The Greatest Mystery,” “The Enchanted World,” “The Perfect Dance,” “It’s Cause You Lived,” “Tres Pies,” “Nothing Is Free,” “That Lucky Old Sun” & “At the Rail.”
Musicians – Paul Pearcy (drums/spoons/djembe), Dexter Payne (clarinet), Jimmy Stadler (piano) & features Eliza Gilkyson (harmony vocals), Diamond Jim Richmond (fiddle/pedal steel guitar) & Michael Hearne (lead & acoustic guitars) & Pete Wernick (banjo).
Color image from The Rifters’ website. CD @ https://www.rifters.net/product/the-enchanted-world