Wholesomely complete albums are few and far between these days. Nefesh Mountain’s sophomore full-length effort is the best of medicines, one fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, lightly stirred with a fresh take on bluegrass infused with Jewish traditional parameters reimagined into its very own deity. The messages are remarkably steadfast, at times one in the same and almost interchangeable.
The locomotive push ahead is a “mighty roar,” due in part to the dream backing band of Sam Bush’s mandolin, Jerry Douglas’ dobro, Tony Trischka’s banjo, and David Grier’s guitar picking. The coal-fired engine is Doni Zasloff’s essential singing, coupled with husband and bandmate Eric Lindberg’s own powerful vocal prowess and virtuosic approach to not only banjo, but also guitar, and touring bandmates Alan Grugner’s fiddle and Tim Kiath’s bass. How’s that for around the horn?! If this is progressive, consider me progressed. The sound is crisp, clear, magical, an instant favorite, the type of record that cleanses the dirt underneath, in between, and unforeseen.
The music is perfection, uplifting and withholding at the same time, as Zasloff and Lindberg further explore their initial idea of exposing the alignment in the roots of traditional Jewish song and those of Appalachian front-porch variety. That part is beyond cool, but, even outside of religion and heritage, it’s the music –outstanding bluegrass from New York natives tracked in Nashville with a veritable all-star backing band.
This is one of the finest, wholly bluegrass records one will hear in not only 2018 but as a touchstone moving forward. For those uninitiated, it’s basically the bluegrass version of the 1992 Dream Team Olympic basketball roster. You might remember Lithuania had the Grateful Dead-donated tie-dyes, but we had Bird, Magic, Jordan, Clyde, Barkley, and Laettner on the bench … what a simpler time! For an escape from 2018, my ears, mind, soul will be glued Beneath The Open Sky.