2Ton Bridge – self titled (Monkey Room Music) review
An aural journey through forgotten America
Country used to be the music of the hard-working American. But, somewhere along the endless trail of songs about bikinis and pickup trucks, the genre lost it’s connection with the real world. Thankfully, there’s still artists like Alexander Wright, whose recent project, 2Ton Bridge, is filled with songs about people who sweat and toil for little or no glory.
2Ton Bridge have constructed their debut album the old-fashioned way – as a complete listening experience. So, dust off the old headphones, and prepare for a journey. The disc opens with “Overture” / “Noise Farm” where it sounds like everyone is either warming up or trying to scare away demons (or maybe both). Then, the ride begins, from the crab fisherman in Chesapeake Bay (the chugging “Waterman Town”), to the grain farmer in the Midwest (the blistering “Take Your Hands Off My Land”) to the thankless job of fence construction (the thumping “Posthole Digger”), Wright spins tales of the forgotten people of this country, all seemingly living on borrowed time.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in the chilling “Parchman Prison Clay,” where the fiddle echoes the working inmate’s dread: “I feel that reaper coming round the bend / I’m still digging.” The song ends with a lonesome fiddle that seems to be playing a funeral march.
While much of the album deals with beaten down characters, there are a few bright spots. A pair of songs we reviewed last year, “Pennies on the Shore” and “I’m a Hoot Owl,” both gentle and reflective, are cleverly sequenced to give temporary respite from the heavier material. (read our review of that single here).
The disc closes with “I Will Do My Last Singing,” an old Rev. Gary Davis song featuring just Wright and guitar. Fittingly, we get only one refrain, then the track fades out as the guitar continues to play – leaving everything unresolved.
Producer Marvin Etzioni’s gift here is his ability to elevate these tracks from simple acoustic accompaniment to rich, aural soundscapes. Take “Post Hole Digger,” where the mandolins and deep percussion make you feel like your there watching him work, or “The Beast,” which features metallic percussion and crying, slide guitar, perfectly capturing the feel of a slow moving train, while he sings “lost my faith / but I got my hands.”
This is truly one of those albums that you need to give your full attention to. Pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage, tell the family you’re going out on the back porch, and lose yourself in this great music. —Tony Peters