Boris Garcia: Once More Into the Bliss (2008)
Don't jump to conclusions about Boris Garcia based on the cryptic name or even (especially) the mandala-adorned cover art of Once More into the Bliss. You may be confounded, at first, and then, more likely than not, delighted.
Boris Garcia's music is a predominantly acoustic mix of instruments that gains distinction from arrangements that include sparing touches of the exotic likes of bouzouki and glockenspiel along side Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ and harmonica. Consequently, the conventional bluegrass of "Through the Window" becomes refreshing in context of the album.
The orchestration plays off against mandolin on the chirpy melody of "Holiday" making the track an effective ode to getting away from it all, even when focusing on the music. Songs like "She Wasn't Born to Follow" don't trade on original thoughts or style, even down to the direct reference to Carole King's song, but the Byrds-like vocal harmonies complete a favorable sense of deja vu.
It is little wonder that Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth produced Once More Into the Bliss. Like that nouveau bluegrass unit, Boris Garcia demonstrates a similar loyalty to the genre, not to mention a contemporary inclination to expand beyond its traditional boundaries. And it's not just via an improvisational bent that stretches "Go," but an ability to credibly replicate its roots dating back to English madrigals on "Lover Tonight." "River Man" calls to mind the British electric folk band Steeleye Span as well as Jethro Tull, but this is the new millennium, hence the charm of such roots, if hearing this band moves listeners to do some research.
That might well take place during the nine-minutes plus of "The Ballad Captain Jack," which goes on probably three times too long, considering its formulaic structure. Seven minutes of "Other Side," on the contrary, could go on twice its length for all its dreamy languor and almost does; which concluding "Beautiful Again" sounds like a direction extension of that reverie.
Lyrics to songs like that closer exhibit just enough of tongue-in-cheek attitude to reaffirm that Boris Garcia refuses to take them too seriously. Accordingly, the words aren't printed on the colorful digi-pak supplanted instead by songwriting credits and the various instrumental roles assumed by the band and their guests, including Donna Jean Godchaux-Mackay (of Grateful Dead fame) and Buddy Cage (once and future pedal steel wizard from The New Riders of The Purple Sage). The purity of the musicianship all-around renders Boris Garcia more than academics and Once More Into the Bliss worth playing repeatedly.
Track Listing: Holiday; She Wasn't Born To Follow; Through The Window; Go; Lover Tonight; Scootch; River Man; The Ballad of Captain Jack; Everything's Going To Be Fine; Other Side; Beautiful Again.
Personnel: Jeff Otto: vocals, bass, guitar, ukulele; Bob Stirner: vocals, guitar, bass; Gene Smith: vocals,harmonica, recorder, guitar; Bud Burroughs: mandolin, bouzouki, button Accordion,Hammond Organ; Stephe Ferraro: drums, percussion.