Switching their template from the arcane Americana of the Band, the Byrds, and others of that ilk, Travelin’ Shoes finds Marley’s Ghost summoning a sound akin to a gospel revival through precise picking, acapella embellishments, and soothing songs of praise. All but three of the tracks are traditional in origin, but all are given distinctive treatment, resonating with clear purpose and passion.
The sextet of skilled multi-instrumentalists/singers—Dan Wheetman, Jon Wilcox, Mike Phelan, Ed Littlefield Jr., Jerry Fletcher, and Bob Nichols—have always shown their strength in their assured acoustic trappings. Each contributes to the adroit arrangements, sometimes driven by supple guitar, but also incorporating the additional additives of fiddle, mandolin, dobro, and pedal steel. The sound they create emanates a supple sheen, but the emphatic, down-home approach to religion and revelry still shine through.
Likewise, with producer Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm) overseeing the proceedings, the cohesive arrangements are meticulously maintained. Although the approach varies from the didactic delivery of the title track and the reggae rhythms of “Run Come See Jerusalem” to the assured shuffle of “Someday” and “Shadrack,” the songs retain an equal blend of fervor and finesse. The intertwined solos that weave through “Standing By the Bedside of a Stranger,” the pluck and sway that embellishes “You Can’t Stand Up Alone,” and the deft fingerpicking highlighted on “A Beautiful Life” all attest to the band’s ability to underscore their performances with reverence and respect.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.