Spirit Family Reunion: Ride Free
Now this, this is delightful. Like a sunny 16 Horsepower or a winsome Asylum Street Spankers, Spirit Family Reunion, for sheer fun, matches any Jimbo Mathus project yet conceived, while flirting with the flat-out accessibility of the Lumineers or the dreaded Mumfords. "Ease My Mind," indeed! They've been doing the "open-door gospel" thing for a decade now, and with Ride Free they are sounding better than ever. Nick Panken's sweet, plaintive wail is a joy, and Maggie Carson's still unorthodox banjo plunking serves as its own center of gravity, even on low key gems like "Come Our Way." Whether assailing the tumbleweed moan of "Whoopie Ti Yi Yo" or romping through the ersatz title track "One Way Ticket," the Spirits score high marks here. Americana was a tired term the day after it was coined, but this music makes good on the promise. It's just what repeat play was invented for.