Old Californio – Metaterranea
Well, it’s refreshing to revisit the type of music that actually created a mindset for many listeners who were around when the genre was cooking. This effort is respective of that 70s capsule. It has all the necessary ingredients to maintain the hard-to-define but easy-to-appreciate trajectory. Hard to define because this musicality isn’t exactly country, it isn’t perfectly folk, it’s not true rock n’ roll & not the blues. What it is, is a good time music rooted in musical similarities that blend to create, not another genre of music, but a coherent feeling that transcends today.
If you like Little Feat, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hot Tuna, Crazy Horse, Seatrain, the countrified Grateful Dead as well as the Jerry Garcia Band. Or even the more intense Americana-inflected Blue Rodeo, The Beat Farmers, The BoDeans & The Brando’s you will find this Old Californio unit to your liking. The performances are sharp, lots of clarity & they suggest but don’t meander off into jam-land.
The tradition is embedded in well-crafted songwriting & varied effective vocalizing styles. The 10-cut 6th CD Metaterranea (Drops October 27-Old Californio Records) possesses intelligent pieces like “The Swerve.” Think Traveling Wilbury’s mixed liberally with doses of countrified Grateful Dead. It’s a stretch but it’s there. The music serves up a practical menu of varied styles delivered warm & with charm.
With the ultra-melodic “Destining Again,” the arrangement is Ozark Mountain Daredevils whipped up into a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band pop-country sensibility. Lovely stuff especially with the buzz-sawing guitar runs keep the R&R cream sweet. These veteran musicians are all from a proficient stock having played with names like Bobby Womack, Mike Nesmith, Chris Hillman, Stan Ridgeway & Neil Young.
There are tunes that sound like they were “helped” along lyrically by the late Robert Hunter with the typical California-other-worldly tapestry of avant-garde poetry. Evident in the salient “Weeds (Wildflowers),” which is a distant cousin of “China Cat Sunflower.” While the songs aren’t as intense as the Dead’s masterful suite “Terrapin Station” it’s obvious something like that is about to happen.
“Tired For a Sea,” is the band at its best. Infectious melody, soft focus attraction, sparkling vocals & well, just push “replay” & you’ll sing the song all day.
Highlights – “Old Kings Road,” “The Swerve,” “Destining Again,” “Weeds (Wildflowers),” “The Seer” & “Tired For a Sea.”
Musicians – Woody Aplanalp (guitar/nylon string guitar/lap steel & slide guitars/bgv), Rich Dembowski (lead vocals/guitar/bass/12-string Maudal guitar), Jon Niemann (keys/piano/bells), Justin Smith (drums/bgv), Anthony Logerfo & Lon Hayes (drums), Corey McCormick (bass), Paul Lacques (lap steel guitar), Andres Renteria (conga) & Jason Chesney (harmonies/backing vocals).
Color image courtesy of Faye Nahm. The 45-minute CD @ https://oldcalifornio.bandcamp.com/album/old-californio-country