Album Notes - Skyway Man - The World Only Ends When You Die

Album Notes - Skyway Man - The World Only Ends When You Die

December 9, 2020

On The World Only Ends When You Die, Skyway Man does not overtly resemble the Grateful Dead, yet the more I listen to their optimistically named new LP, the more my mind drifts towards those enduring chromatic troubadours of days yore. Undoubtedly, the connection is the "American" sound, or at least that is how my mind conceives what my ears grasp. The Dead, particularly the Godchaux years, have long held a place in my heart as being the delegates that best musically represented our culture, honoring the country's rich sonic forebears via their genre-melding excursions. The similarity here lies in the source.

Jerry Garcia, also a fiddler and banjoist, was well versed in the Appalachian bluegrass sound. James Wallace, the driving force behind Skyway Man, hails from those same beauty's subrange lovingly known as the Smokies. Per the bio on the website of their label, Mama Bird Recording Co., the band's second album contains a "handful of early-to-mid century traditional gospel songs recontextualized." Drop the word "gospel" and that statement becomes very Dead-esque. Despite the lack of mixolydian guitar solos, Skyway Man carries on the confluence of influences previously encompassed by those oft-derided hippies. Somehow the sounds summoned on The World Only Ends When You Die also seem perfectly apropos for the holiday season.