Nobody mixes disco beats and bluegrass strings as proficiently as Whitewater Ramble. Roots and Groove, the second album from the Colorado "dancegrass" outfit, is packed with the ingredients that have made the group a staple of the jam band scene for nearly a decade. From the frenetic fiddle jam in "Fast as Lightning" to the electric guitar twang, dobro moans and locomotive drum blasts of the 10-minute "Beyer's Canyon," Roots and Groove is a tasty platter of tunes with plenty of surprises for the uninitiated.
It's not a perfect album; the production is so slick that it often ends up being a distraction. Sometimes it feels like the studio tricks only serve as a diversion from mediocre lyrics, and certain touches, like the excessive delay on the vocals on "Guilty as Charged," do little to actually bolster the songs. The ballad "Paradise" becomes a standout track largely due to its simplicity, as pleasant harmonies and lilting dobro melodies, courtesy of Infamous Stringdusters' Andy Hall, offer a soothing break in the album's glossy finish. This is a serious step up for a sophomore release, but these guys are still best experienced on the dance floor, not through the stereo.
Whitewater Ramble plays the Top Hat Fri., March 15, at 7 PM. Free.