THE TAPROOTS - Tales Of Wonderland - ALBUM REVIEW



THE TAPROOTS

Tales Of Wonderland

San Luis Obispo, CA, United States



You’ve been waiting for this album even if you didn’t notice. Trust me, when you hear ‘Tales of Wonderland’ by The Taproots you will feel a sense of relief and homecoming as the Americana rock duo smash classic sounds out of the park in their debut album. It features all the staples of country sounds, brushed drums, sliding guitars and walking bass lines yet they have been blended with modern rock acoustic and electric guitar attitudes, making the whole album feel fresh and classic all at once. Toe tappers, square dancers and melody hummers unite. The Taproots have done us right with ‘Tales of Wonderland.


The album is headed by, ‘California Life’. The song wastes no time getting to the good stuff. Bluesy riffs and funk bass crack to life as the drums keep time. A two-part harmony ooh’s in front and the good times keep coming. It tastes like Grateful Dead with a merry time small band harmonic twist, it's delicious and you’ll be wanting more. Good thing there are lots of ‘Tales of Wonderland’ to go ‘round.


‘Big Fat Love’ changes the station. Move away from Bluegrass Americana and come toward 80s blues-rock. The song opens like Springsteen and clashes with drums and electric guitar. A bass drum keeps the track walking as the vocals stroll in big and warm. Harmonies open up the song and blast the chorus. It’s fun, hearty, a smiler of the highest order. The Taproots never sit still. They keep to a blues root but play with its vines. ‘Haarlem’ feels like a modern country hit. It climbs chords blissfully and the vocals hit harmonies that are sweet like sap. The chorus blooms and it's a springtime shower with the sun poking through the cotton-grey clouds. Oh, what a riff…


The pace picks up, don’t get comfy because you’ll be up and dancing soon to ‘Wild Like a River’ which is funky and smooth with a chorus that will get your shoulders shifting. A good toe tapper followed by a slow dance song like ‘Compass’ will always go down easy. The harp-like chords sing out over cymbals and keys as the vocal pair do their work with ease as the song rolls on.


‘Ontario’ brings us right back to rock. It's clever and bluesy and too catchy to quit. It amazes me how dynamic The Taproots sound can be over one album. It has moved from rock to blues to dance to a slow-jam one after another and you wouldn’t bat an eye because the pair do it all so well. ‘Belief’ takes a country stance and once again it's harmonious and jiving.


I’ve only covered half of the album and The Taproots have already covered so much ground and they continue to pace on into the rock and roll barley fields. ‘Better Man’ and ‘Invisible Friends’ are catchy and rhythmic, songs to blare out of car stereos. ‘Where Are You Now’ and ‘My Sunlight’ are heavy listening songs about love and loss and belonging. ‘Wolf in the Woodland’ and ‘Comfort Zone’ are story songs that unfurl before you as you listen and hold within messages or tales, weaving narratives without dropping the songwriting ball, meaning they’re still great tunes.


‘Fate of Fire’ closes ‘Tales of Wonderland’ and it's a journey. I am now certain that blues will never die. The Taproots are collectively all the branches of classic American rock rolled up into one bundle. Standout notes are brought forth by inventive guitar and two-part harmonies that run through the entire album. Give it a


listen if you love good music. (Also they nailed the album art. The feeling, the colours, the symbolism. It fits like a glove and it's one hell of a looker.)