Drew Emmitt has been making music for more than 25 years. His first band, Leftover Salmon, developed a cult following and though it still plays gigs during festival season, its members have moved to other projects.
Emmitt began his career as a bandleader in 2002. His third solo release displays the full breadth of his talent; “Gold Hill Line” showcases his bluegrass chops, “Beat of the World” proves he can weave a powerful reggae groove, and the title cut explores new acoustic/electric groove music. Leftover Salmon’s sound was “polyethnic Cajun slamgrass,” and Emmitt has retained that discursive essence.
Eight of the 11 songs here were written or co-written by Emmitt. Some, like “Cloud City,” are destined to be modern instrumental classics. He has a knack for combining Celtic, blues, and bluegrass influences into tunes that satisfy on many levels.
Emmitt’s principal instrument is the mandolin, where he has established himself as a unique stylist. But on Long Road, he plays acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and mandola. Most of the cuts feature The Infamous Stringdusters’ banjo player Chris Pandolfi, longtime studio pro Stuart Duncan on fiddle, and harmony vocals by the likes of Tim O’Brien, John Cowan, and Darrell Scott. Even in this exalted company, Emmitt’s vocals stand out. His singing isn’t flashy, but it commands your attention.
For Emmitt, three is a charm. Long Road will not only impress longtime fans, but garner festival-loads of new ones.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.