Album Review of
Across the Bridge

Written by Joe Ross
February 8, 2016 - 12:00am EST
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Somewhat like Tim O’Brien, mandolinist and singer Drew Emmitt has a contemporary style all his own. Unlike Tim who incorporates electric guitar, drums and percussion into his arrangements, Drew Emmitt prefers to keep his music fully acoustic. Drew is best known for his work with Leftover Salmon, a Colorado electric “jamgrass” band (actually their own genre moniker was “Cajun slamgrass”) which broke up in 2004. Drew then assembled a band, The Drew Emmitt Band, which has returned to a more traditional sound.

His musical compadres include some first class musicians -- Matt Flinner (banjo, mandoin, bouzouki), Greg Garrison (bass, harmony vocals), and Ross Martin (guitar).  On this 58-minute album, guest artists appearing on this CD include Del McCoury, Ronnie McCoury, Sam Bush, John Cowan, Stuart Duncan, Paul Barrere and Jim Lauderdale. Barrerre (of Little Feat) sings lead vocal and plays slide guitar on his own composition, “All That You Dream.”

“Across the Bridge” is actually Drew’s second release, and it’s largely original material. It would’ve been nice if the CD jacket had included lyrics. Emmitt is the sole composer of “Reach Out For Me,” “Silvanite,” and “Out in the Woods.” The former is ¾-time is an offer of love, friendship and support in tough times. Over 7 minutes in length, the latter is a fluid piece that gives equal footing to instrumental improvisation and the song’s message in a similar way to how Leftover Salmon performed it. Once the groove is established, each string wizard gets to strut their stuff.  Three songs were written by Emmitt and Jim Lauderdale (“Up Where We Are,” “The Awakening,” and “This House”).  Emmitt’s collaboration with Ben Galloway resulted in two numbers, “All Night Ride” and “Cross That Bridge.”  “Big Ice” is a snappy instrumental written by Flinner. The nearly 7-minute cover of Dylan’s “Meet Me in the Morning,” gets a tad bit tedious and could’ve potentially been arranged.

Emmitt’s multi-genre exploration takes us into steaming bluegrass (“All Night Ride”), engaging country (“Reach Out For Me”), gripping instrumental (“Silvanite”), and even some ethereal new acoustic territory (“The Awakening”). His music is tightly crafted with a visceral quality that is both intense and profound. (Joe Ross)