This Banjo trio has a casual, virtually drum-free, laid-back vibe, and also knows its way around a tune or three.
Time: 13 Tracks / 53 mins
“This CD is 100% guitar free” proclaims the inside cover, and who needs a guitar when your front person plays banjo and ukulele, and you can bring in an electric harp?
Impala is backed by her band The New Prohibition, which includes her husband and co-producer "Dr." Dirk Ronneburg on fiddle and Joel "Jello" Sanderson on double bass, but she brings in guests for half of the songs.
Both Impala and Ronneburg have links to old-time outfits and Impala also pays indie, so this disc tries to bring the two streams together somewhat and succeeds.
As the disc progresses, it happens to span the years. Opener “Fingernail Moon” has an old-style jazz/Americana vibe – boosted by Peter Garnett’s accordion – as does “Blackbird.” At the other end, “Home” nods to more recent decades with a few turntable scratches (although I am still not sure whether they add a welcome touch of variety, distract or do both at the same time).
Tumbleweed is at its best on tracks like “Flicker n’ Shine,” where a languid pace; space around the banjo; a sensitive, infilling fiddle and a hooky title all combine to create something that could have been a demo for Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours – as could the title track.
“Little Bird” is just as good. It feels like a traditional song; such is its flowing melody and innate singability. That said, it may sound old because the verse is a straight copy of “Little Black Veil.” Even the title is half-copied!
Songs tell both ends of a relationship, with lyrics like “I wanna make you mine” at the start and “I cannot stay here, this is not my home” at the difficult end.
Impala has her rebellious streak, wanting to “Touch me right; I wanna do wrong” on the opener and confessing, “I broke the law” on “Blackbird, while another track with old-time overtones called “Roll a Joint” fits into the easy-going mood of the album.
This band has a definite understanding that makes for some excellent interplay to bring the best out of the songs.
A couple of the tracks are pleasant, if instantly forgettable, but generally Impala manages to keep interest through songs that have their own character, while blending into a lazy, casual whole.