Bridge The Gap
Independent release, 2005
REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/17/2006
It's been a while since we had a really good jam band. Dave Matthews has long since ceased to be musically relevant, and Phish is no longer together, so jam band followers are wondering who the next big thing will be.
Well, the L.A.-based FallWater Project would like to claim the throne, and with some fine-tuning they could be on their way. Bridge The Gap is a mostly blues-rock hybrid with a few unexpected flourishes thrown in, showing this band is a lot more capable than the average bar band.
Singer Scott Doherty has a perfect voice for the music, and one could see this band headlining a summer festival with plenty of 20-somethings singing along. The FallWater Project doesn't have anything new to say, but they are a talented quintet that knows how to write a good bluesy-rock song, and their occasional flashes of power and brilliance are a welcome sight in the post-grunge wasteland.
And the aforementioned flourishes pop up unexpectedly, such as the funky intro to "Not Much" and the horn/guitar solos in "Never Went Too Far," although the rest of both of those songs is forgettable. The title song has a late-70s rock feel with a bit of Stevie Ray Vaughan's soul, mixed in, but Doherty's lyrics and a knockout solo by Vince Laverty elevate the track, really giving it heart.
A sad piano opens "Say What You Know," which gives way into a late Chili Peppers-type vibe (and another great Laverty solo), while "Words" recalls Dave Matthews' Under The Table And Dreaming but goes for a more upbeat sound on the verse. "Tie Me Up In Red" is the only ballad here, but it's carried off well, while "After All" is an all-acoustic closer with some excellent finger-picking, the best I've heard since Leo Kottke. This band also has folk influences, to go with the blues/rock/funk/jazz on the rest of the disc.
Perhaps the most notable moment is "Heavy," a seven-minute tour de force that offers several musical styles in one song. The solos are great, but the African-beat break in the middle completely takes the song in another direction, blending perfectly with Laverty's ear-shredding solo just prior.
This disc ended too quickly, a sign that the FallWater Project should keep up whatever they are doing. With many lesser bands, so many styles would mean an inability to find footing, but in the hands of these five guys it all makes sense. With any luck, the Project will find what they are looking for and be off to the big time -- a band this talented deserves to be.