The first time I saw Tumbleweed Wanderers I was outside of the Fillmore, in San Francisco, interviewing Taylor Goldsmith, lead singer of Dawes. We were chatting outside his tour bus and what we thought was a random group of people were busking. They were playing “When My Time Comes”, a Dawes song and when Taylor heard this rendition of his song he jumped into the scrum and started singing along. It was an amazing scene.
Then I started hearing rumblings of the Tumbleweed Wanderers around town (San Francisco) and at first I thought, ‘That busking band? Who wants to listen to a busking band?” That question was answered definitively when I received their new CD, So Long, from their publicist with a resounding “me”. It is a very good album that is reminiscent of something Jackie Greene would have done early in his career.
There are some excellent songs on the album and there are some songs that could probably use a little more time to come together, but clearly Tumbleweed Wanderers are not a busking band any longer or maybe not as much as they said in our interview last week. One of the issues I have with the album is that the harmonies are a little off. Jeremy Lyon has a very nice voice, but in songs like “Quiver in my Bones” I actually think the harmony takes away from the power of the song.
I think they could go about it the way the Band approached music and still be extremely successful. If they rotated songs then everyone could sing and the voices wouldn’t get lost in the harmony. Basically, there are certain songs where they seem to employ a Band of Horses element and I don’t think it suits them. For instance on “So Long Blues” there are some harmonies, but the lead singer’s voice is distinctly in front and above the fray of the other harmonies.
This isn’t meant to be a critique of them as they are quite good, but they could be the next Avett Brothers or Delta Spirit if they had all their songs like “So Long Blues”. Not only is it the finest song on the album it is a great Americana song. With the influx of bands going the Americana/Bluegrass/Jam Rock route these days it is rare that a truly great band comes along and blows the doors off. Tumbleweed Wanderers could be that band, they are that good. Their music is phenomenal and their lyrics are poignant. With some fine tuning this band could be an absolute juggernaut in this genre. Even if they don’t they’ll create fine music for years to come.
Best Song – So Long Blues – A testament to how good this band could potentially be.
Worst Song – Quiver in my Bones – The song that shows what happens when a band tries to be something it isn’t.
Tumbleweed Wanderers are currently on tour.