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January 2011

The Bridge
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The Bridge
National Bohemian
Woodberry Records/Thirty Tigers

The best bands ready don’t have a formula. They have nothing to prove except to grow the creative process musically. And their audience appreciates the surprises because of that. The six-piece Baltimore-based The Bridge is one such band.

National Bohemian is their fifth studio album. Earlier albums are said to have “leaned toward jazz-tinged funk and rock” and later country blues. This newest collection of 11 tunes has some elements of those genres but the creativity and talent behind this band makes it hard to label the overall sound.

The album opens with “Sanctuary,” a grunge-like, guitar-sound shifting, feedback-accented, weary-fighter tune — the people keep calling/all that I hear is those voices shouting deep inside/Lord knows that I never been so deserving/the sanctuary some more time — with vocals by Cris Jacobs. Together with Kenny Liner, Jacobs shares most of the songwriting.

And the songs … both Jacobs and Liner have brought their worldliness to the front. Take Liner’s mandolin-driven “Moonlight Mission” about a man who has had enough of a woman being slapped around. Shotgun in my hand/tomorrow come disaster for your man/ … I told Virginia to go run and hide/might be the last time you see your man alive.

At first listen to National Bohemian, the band might sound a little unhinged, as nothing seems connected. Angry guitars (“Sanctuary”), full orchestral leads into country (“Chavez”), southern rock grooves (“Big Wheel”), slap funkiness (“Geraldine”) and take-my-chances ballads (“Colorado Hotel,” “Dirt on My Hands”) are all there. It’s as if The Bridge is both loose and tight, like coins in a back pocket.

But with each spin of National Bohemian, The Bridge demonstrates a startling musicality and the expected understanding of what it’s like to toil, a required condition of all artists.

The Bridge will be playing at the Trouser Mouse in Blue Springs on March 5. Go to http://thebridgemusic.com for more information. — Bruce Rodgers

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