The six-piece bluegrass-Americana-Folk band brings strong covers and even stronger originals
ABQ Band’s First Album Fresh, Exciting
Silver String Band is energetic with crooning harmonies and complexly-layered string skills that make my fingertips sore just thinking about. Everything comes together brilliantly and consistently throughout their self-titled album. If you like Trampled by Turtles, The Avett Brothers, The Lonely Heartstring Band, Punch Brothers, Infamous Stringdusters or Iron Horse, you will almost certainly like Silver String Band.
The album kicks off with “Salida” (yes, that Salida, in Colorado), and the band’s southwest heritage becomes apparent. I have a warm spot in my heart for the line “I was bourbon drunk by four o’ clock / when she walked me hand-in-hand back to her place.” I may have been that guy once or twice, and it paints a pretty picture.
“Places” absolutely roars into the speaker, the first of many places where Silver String Band’s superior string skills shine through, easily doubling the pace of the previous track. Songs like this remind me why I wish I could play the banjo, or really any sort of fast-paced bluegrass strings, and how frustratingly difficult it is.
“Miles” slows things back down into a wistful missing-home ballad, and “Lemon Moon” keeps a similar feel while ramping the tempo back up; the fiddle here is especially excellent.
The tempo slides up another notch with my second favorite song off the album, “Waiting for Jesus.” It’s probably just that I’m a sucker for any song featuring a hard-drinking anti-hero with few regrets and a cheery melody to stagger along with, but MAN, is it good.
Things relax again for a while with “Steeply Uphill” and “Days When.” As much as I love the frenetic strings of bluegrass, the slower tunes are critical too. These two songs give Silver String Band a chance to show off their prodigious vocal chops, and the emotionally charged harmonies ring through with bittersweet longing for somebody, though it’s a little foggy as to who the somebody is.
“Salty Dog” is a last call, hail Mary pass at finding someone to keep your bed warm for the evening, even if that involves squinting to keep seeing double at bay. This one is a classic I have heard more than once, and I’m sold on Silver String Band’s version of it. It’s quicker and twangier than Johnny Cash’s version, and at risk of being tried for heresy, I think I might like it just a little better.
“Estate Sale” is my absolute favorite song off the album. Chalk it up to my morbid sense of humor, and maybe the maniacal hollering right at the end, but it’s fast and strange and it makes me happy.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention their excellent cover of “St. James Infirmary.” It’s been covered more than once – I even know a guy who does a burlesque act to it, singing acapella and incorporating a flute solo. That said, it just shows the song has legs, and Silver String Band does it justice.
Damn good first album, Silver String Band. Damn. Good.
Silver String Band (previously known as Peg Leg Joe) is a six-piece Albuquerque local bluegrass-Americana-folk band. They play a combination of original tunes, classic Americana, and a couple of pretty folked-up covers. They play regularly at Monte Vista Fire Station, and Marble Brewery.
Silver String Band’s album was released only on Spotify, where you can hear it for free, or you can pick up a copy here.
Final note: The band’s website, downtofolk.com is the best damned website name, EVER.
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