The self-titled album from this fun trio, originally formed in Montana, has lots to offer. There’s blues, folk, country, and some rock on the 12 tunes, 11 of them originals by Danny Freund, who lives part-time in Livingston, and Ian Thomas and Paul Lee Kupfer, who hail from Knoxville, TN.
Each sings vocal lead on his compositions, and they all play various instruments, among them guitar, harmonica, bass and drums. Kupfer adds banjo as well, and guest Josh Oliver contributes lead guitar, piano and organ, and Matt Morelock plays jaw harp.
With hoppin’ blues and mean and choppy harp from Morelock, they get it started with Thomas’s jumper, “Poor Children.” Secrets are explored in Freund’s country-flavored “Good Woman” ; it’s flavored with great three-part harmony, as are many of the pieces. The men’s voices mesh well.
Get your dancin’ shoes on for Kupfer’s “Digging Your Grave.” Lots of percussive wizardry and low guitar chops underlie this jammin’ tune about an aimless wanderer.
Kupfer frails some rollicking banjo on Thomas’s “In the Morning,” and Freund’s little rocker, “Home,” takes a traveler down South, telling us home is where he is at the moment. (“They’re wakin’ me up and not lettin’ me sleep; reminds me I’m right where I wanna be.” )
“Sweet Celeny” is a slow country finger-popper with some cool ivory-ticklin’ from Oliver, bluesy and lazy; “Caroline’s Blues” tells a sad, pretty love story in a rolling, minor-infused tempo.
“Shake It” is a harmonica-fueled dancer, and Freund’s slow country-rocker, “New Orleans,” has nuances of Glenn Frey’s vocal inflections. A weary parent seeks to give her son a better life (“there’s two pairs of shoes livin’ under this roof, and my soul is worn through …” ).
“Walking the Dog,” Cliff and Tex Grimsley’s bluegrass diamond, gets nifty banjo treatment, and crackling guitar riffs. This one was born for three-part harmony, and the guys nail it.
Freund’s tender “Not That Old” closes out the effort. Some sweet organ joins this bittersweet number with a nicely penned chorus: “I know what it feels like to outlive your best dog’s life … I don’t want souls who’ve grown cold … but I don’t feel that old.” Thoughtful and right to the heart, this one.
All in all, a well-polished effort from this group, which is touring Montana this summer. Be sure and check them out: www.thebusdrivertour.com.
– Mariss McTucker