Album Reviews

Tim O’Brien

Where The River Meets The Road

Artist:     Tim O’Brien

Album:     Where The River Meets The Road

Label:     Howdy Skies Records

Release Date:     3.31.2017


Tim O’Brien is easily one of the leading US singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalists in the world of modern Americana-cum-bluegrass-cum-country music. For the past thirty-plus years, he has lead from the front with his excellent, pulsing rhythmic fretwork and fiddle-playing, always pushing the music along and providing a melodic vehicle for his crafted lyrics and prismic eye on life’s main themes: love and loss, hope and despair.

Where The River Meets The Road, is more of a biographical effort than usual. Tracks and lyrics mostly focus on his own life and experiences back home in West Virginia, where worlds collide and fuse together, with the Appalachian tradition always bubbling through to the surface of everyday life.

Bluegrass has long been a part of O’Brien’s musical core, though he is also known for his forays into the edges of blues, particularly when he was a relative newcomer many years ago. With this release, he turns to the bluegrass world for support once more: Stuart Duncan, Kathy Mattea, Bryan Sutton, fiery Chris Stapleton, and his old musical partner (and sister) Mollie, who all work together here, bringing their individual and collective touches of sheer class to the mix.

His 16th solo release, this album follows on from last year’s Pompadour, an album that seemed to lack some of the strength normally associated with the Grammy-winning O’Brien. Where The River Meets The Road, more than makes up for any previous slippage and is another prime example of why O’Brien remains an unmissable, unstoppable force and top-quality festival favourite and recording artist.

—Iain Patience

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  1. This is a fantastic, introspective album and I agree entirely that Pompadour was – unusually – a bit lacklustre, but then Tim O’Brien does set the bar very high! This one more than makes up for it and he remains my favourite country/bluegrass artiste of all time.