They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and yet I am guilty of
doing just that. One look at the photo on the cover showing a pretty
boy (Christopher Hawley) dressed in an ‘old west’ cowboy shirt and leaning
up against a tree strumming his acoustic guitar and I immediately
prepared myself for the worst. If my ears had a voice they would have cried mutiny had this turned out to be a watered-down twangfest. Thankfully, this is not the first time I have been proven wrong.
The Roots Of The Tree is the second release by this Southern
Californian band. The first three songs on this album are drizzled with the flavor
of Eric Clapton's early solo work. The song "Show Your Love" reminds
one of Clapton's softer side with some nice slide work. Songs four
through eight were recorded live at a bar, turning this set into a fun
whiskey-soaked sing-along. You can practically smell the Pabst Blue
Ribbon on tap and imagine the waitresses getting their asses slapped by
good ole boys.
You can tell these musicians are no strangers to the
road. They play together well, in a tightly cohesive style while kicking up the boogie factor significantly on the live tracks. There is a small touch of country
rock/gospel on the "When Jesus Fed the Multitude" showing the band can
mix things up a little.
For the last two songs, the album ventures back into the studio. "Flag
Girl" pays homage to an older country sound reminiscent of Willie
Nelson, while the final track, "See You Again" highlights some tasty
dual guitar work. The sound quality on this disc is very good overall with
the guitars and vocals coming through nicely. The CD also features a
music video of the CD's first song, "Just What To Do" as an added
In conclusion, this is a fun listen from start to finish, featuring
some excellent guitar work with a laid back vibe. These are competent
performances that can only come from a hard-working band that sound
like they are having a good time. If this sounds like your cup of tea
(or can of Schlitz), check out their Myspace page to hear a few samples
and judge for yourself.