Railroad Earth's third release, The Good Life, is full of the familiar great song crafting of Todd Shaeffer. The rest of the band spins their Americana/folk/traditional acoustic music through this new collection of tunes, some of which are already staples of their live shows. For a band who's image is so well defined by their live concerts, the sound quality of this studio CD is outstanding, all of the mainly acoustic instruments and vocals are clear and the mix is well balanced.

So many jam bands seem to forget the importance of good song writing with meaningful lyrics. Railroad Earth's songs are well-crafted stories, and are delivered with outstanding musicianship and strong vocals. The album credits list Shaeffer playing acoustic and National guitar, multi-instrumentalist Andy Goessling on banjo, dobro, and sax (to name a few!), Tim Carbone on fiddle, accordion, piano and electric guitar, John Skehan on mandolin, piano, and Hammond organ, Johnny Grubb on bass and Carey Harmon on drums.

Shaeffer often writes tunes about love, being positive, and living a simpler life paired with catchy refrains and memorable melodies, and this effort is not different in that regard. Re-occurring themes of examining one's destiny, living a good life, and staying true to one's self resound.

The opening track, "Storms" uses the metaphor to "ride out the storm" in a relationship and stick together through hard times. Perhaps an ode to marriage? "Way of the Buffalo" is an environmental allegory and the title track, "The Good Life," is about living free and "going back to the country" evoking images of a simpler time. One of the strongest songs is "Goat" which in the live setting extends into a long jammed out vehicle for the band. The somber lyrics, however, paint a picture of how to rid one's life of negativity.

Railroad Earth has been gaining fans and pleasing music aficionados steadily for the past few years. They tour frequently coast to coast and appear at many outdoor festivals nationwide every year. This exposure has led to an ever-expanding tour base of devoted "hobos" who will welcome this wonderful new recording of finely crafted tunes.

Susan J. Weiand
JamBase | California
Go See Live Music!


[Published on: 6/28/04]

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