Truth & Salvage Co.
Pick Me Up
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars
This roots rocking Nashville by way of Southern California and Asheville outfit had been scuffling sincef 2005, but finally got a break when the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson produced its 2010 debut. Tours opening for the Crowes and the Avett Brothers tightened their live act and this sophomore release should be a culmination of those factors.
While there is plenty to enjoy here, from the mandolin driven country rock of “Appalachian Hilltop” to the gutsy swamp of “Shady River,” the band’s four lead vocalists –none of them particularly distinctive—and a scattershot sound that never quite gels shows an act that remains in transition. Their roots rock approach borrows much from icons of Americana from Poco to the Band, the Allmans and not surprisingly the Crowes yet little feels unique or distinctive enough to pick them out of a hundred other aspiring bands. That would be fine if the songwriting matched the group’s hardscrabble ambitions, but for the most part it does not.
Taken individually the tracks are at worst inoffensive slices of soulful Southern folk/rock, both musically and lyrically. But after repeated spins little sticks other than a passable cover of Joe South’s somewhat schlocky “Games People Play,” the disc’s only non-original. Some tunes like the jaunty but simplistic “So Sad” should have been left on the cutting room floor.
That leaves the group’s acclaimed live show to pick up the slack for a talented act that hasn’t quite found its groove in the studio.