Old Salt Union has released their 4th studio album, WHERE THE DOGS DON’T BITE, on Compass Records. The album finds this non-traditional stringband digging deep into their eclectic and diverse interests to create this set of new music, which has already received praise in such publications as No Depression, Rolling Stone Country, Relix, The Bluegrass Situation, and Bluegrass Today.
For this follow-up to their self-titled Compass Records debut, the Belleville, Illinois outfit once again enlisted GRAMMY-winning banjoist and Compass co-founder Alison Brown to produce. The resulting album,WHERE THE DOGS DON’T BITE, finds the members tapping into their varied musical backgrounds to deliver a wildly entertaining, eclectic batch of songs.
The quintet — Ryan Murphey (banjo), Justin Wallace (lead vocals and mandolin), John Brighton (violin), Jesse Farrar (lead vocals and bassist) and newest member Graham Curry(guitar) — continues to hone and develop its sound through their relentless tour schedule, cultivating a steadfast fanbase drawn to their high-energy shows.
Farrar, the nephew of Son Volt’s Jay Farrar, kicks off the album with “God You Don’t Need,” a hook-laden ode to a relationship gone bad set against a tapestry of strings and an eerily compelling banjo melody. Bluegrass legend and labelmate Bobby “Rocky Top” Osborne guests on “Tell Me So,” a nod to the bluegrass side of the band’s musical sensibilities featuring lead vocals and songwriting by mandolinist Justin Wallace.
Violinist Brighton delivers the gypsy-tinged instrumental “Johann’s Breakdown,” which pulls from jazz and classical progressions, and Wallace delivers the haunting title track, “Where The Dogs Don’t Bite.”
The dark, but heartfelt song features triple-layered guitar harmonies, stacked vocals and a group sing-along that recalls the last call at a corner pub in the Rust Belt, a fitting closing to this musically diverse and compelling release.
Strong Rhythm and Slide guitars propel Heidi to her Devil’s Kiss on this track from the successful album My Longest Mile from Norway’s Reloaded.