A new release from this fabulous band is always a cause for celebration, especially when it is their first collection of new material for a decade. Seven Elana James’ compositions and five from Whit Smith make up 12 of the album’s 15 tracks. A generous running time of nearly an hour sees the band veer from the usual infectious mix of jazz and Western swing, to Cajun dance on ‘Tall Tall Ship’, and even traditional Scottish folk on the (maybe misjudged) ‘Loch Lomond’.
Ex lovers are flayed on the witty ‘Near Mrs’ while equine love serves as it’s perfect counterpart in ‘Before The Time Of Men’.
The playing as you would expect is exemplary throughout with Elana’s violin striking sparks, Whit Smith’s pristine guitar solos and Jake Erwin’s solid double bass underpinning the whole. Guest musicians include one time touring partner Damien Llanes with the real highlight being the superb piano playing of Joe Kerr, particularly on the Brubeck-esque ‘Ways Of Escape’ with it’s crazed denouement. It is probably best to catch them live but as you have just missed out on their last UK tour, buying this will have to do.