Bob Weir's "Blue Mountain" opens with a song titled "Only a River," which borrows liberally from the old folk song "Shenandoah." In fact, much of this album, which Weir wrote with producer Josh Kaufman and singer Josh Ritter takes its inspiration from timelessly meditative Americana folk songs. The aforementioned album opener's lyric finds Weir repeating the line, "Only a river gonna make things right." It's almost as though proven aims and ideals of the Old West are the only principles that can fix our broken modern times.
Weir both looks and sounds like a grizzled cowboy on "Blue Mountain." He sings uncannily like Warren Zevon, which only adds weight to the words he vocalizes throughout this warm and thoughtful collection. This is not to suggest "Blue Mountain" is a strictly traditional musical work, however. The Kerouac-ian escapist pleas of "Gonesville," for instance, features the sort of exotic guitar solo that wouldn't sound out of place on one of Tom Waits more recent arty rock songs.
The more upbeat tracks invite Weir to inhabit the persona of a wheeling dealing wrestler. In contrast, "Gallop On the Run" allows Weir to take her slow and easy, more of a trot than full gallop, and sing with undeniably comforting sweetness.
Throughout "Blue Mountain," Weir draws upon American western imagery, without ever devolving into, say, cowboy movie parody. Instead, he finds great inspiration and value in the sights and sounds of this pre-modern era. If listening to this music tricks you into feeling like you're momentarily in a simpler, more peaceful time, Weir's probably done his job well.