Bob Weir, "Blue Mountain" (Columbia/Legacy and ROAR)
The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir, showing more than a little touch of grey at age 68, delivers a heartfelt and earthy solo record with "Blue Mountain."
It's Weir's first solo effort in a decade and the first of entirely original material in 30 years.
Weir, who sang with the Dead that he may be going to hell in a bucket but at least he's enjoying the ride, strikes a more reflective pose on "Blue Mountain." It's a deeply personal collection of cowboy songs drawn on his memories working as a teenager on a Wyoming farm.
Say "cowboy songs" to many Grateful Dead fans and they will go running for the skip button. And, to be sure, songs like "Ki-Yi Bossie" on "Blue Mountain" aren't likely to convert those who can do without tales from the dust-covered trails.
Still, Weir's collaboration here with Josh Ritter and The National's Bryce and Aaron Dessner results in a moody, dense record unlike anything he's done before. The production, and subject matter, fits his road-weary vocals.
The closer, "One More River to Cross," feels as heartfelt as anything Weir has ever written and should resonate with fans who have been along for any part of the long, strange trip of his unparalleled career.