Finally, after four long years Yonder Mountain String Band has offered a new studio release. It is a four song EP, YMSB EP ‘13, featuring each member’s unique style and song writing ability.
One might ask how a successful band can go so long without releasing something new from the studio. The answer lies in this band’s exhausting tour schedule and their legion of loyal fans.
The boys from Yonder Mountain are on the road more than they are home with their growing families. This sacrifice is not lost on their dedicated followers. Yonder’s fans (who call themselves “Kinfolk”) come to shows to see each other almost as much as they do to see the band. This is no coincidence because this band fosters a togetherness and sense of belonging like no other on the road currently.
This synergy combined with Yonder’s ability to rely on their own nontraditional influences and collaborative abilities creates the unrivaled atmosphere that makes Yonder Mountain String band one of the most successful bands touring today.
This EP is a great example of the band’s diversity and the singular perspective each member brings to the table.
“Straight Line” shows us the heart of bass player Ben Kaufman and his soulfulness as he tries to make sense of following a “Road that never ends”. This song is a cautionary tale of taking the guided path. Despite the pensive lyrics, the song has a lilting quality. Its warmth reveals Kaufman’s ability to deal with things philosophical without being heavy handed. “Straight Line” is a more recent addition to the Yonder set list and has already become a crowd favorite.
“Happy Birthday” gives the listener a view into the always interesting and intelligent mind of David Johnston, Yonder’s idiosyncratic and engaging banjo player. Johnston is a gifted story teller. He can create a scene, transporting the listener instantly to a three dimensional place, with the flick of a word. The tone and the message of this song suit his country crooner’s voice perfectly.
“Rag Doll” evokes that fun filled blue grass tradition of creepy lyrics with an upbeat attitude. Written by mandolin Player Jeff Austin with the assistance of the incomparable Danny Barnes, the song is quirky yet accessible. What keeps this song buoyant is its celebration of individuality along with its syncopated rhythm. The dark, sinister images Austin and Barnes create are more inviting than alienating.
“All the Time”, written by Yonder’s exceptional guitar player Adam Aijala, has been a Yonder staple for a few years now. Its melancholy lyrics are belied by a rolling, galloping guitar and up tempo bass beat. Aijala’s words are guarded and purposefully ambiguous, yet in each verse there is a phrase or sentiment that will touch someone. Reminiscent of Robert Hunter, Aijala’s expressions are poetic and thought provoking. The lyrics paints several small vignettes in which listeners can find their own lives reflected.
YMSB EP ‘13 functions well on many levels. It is a must have for the die-hard Yonder fan and a great introduction to what this band is about for the newbie. It highlights the band’s many layers of musicianship and articulates why Yonder’s message finds its target in the heart of at least one new comer per show who leaves vowing to return the very next night.
You can purchase Yonder Mountain String Band’s latest release as well as their earlier work at:
Buy the EP and see them live here!
10/16 – Oxford, MS – The Lyric
10/17 – 10/19 – Ozark, AK – Mulberry Mountain Harvest Music Festival
10/23 – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom
10/24 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
10/25 & 10/26 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues
10/29 & 10/30 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl
10/31 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
11/1 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
11/2 – Portland, ME – State Theater
12/11 – 12/14 – Puerto Morelos, Mexico – Strings & Sol
12/27 – 12/31 – Boulder, CO – Boulder Theater