Railroad Earth’s music is driven by the remarkable songs of front-man, Todd Sheaffer, and is delivered with seamless arrangements and superb musicianship courtesy of all six band members. They can jam with the best of them, but they’re not a jam band. They’re bluegrass influenced, but they use drums and amplifiers (somewhat taboo in the bluegrass world). RRE bristles about being lumped into any one “scene.” Not out of animosity for any other artists: it’s just that they don’t find the labels very useful. According to fiddle player Tim Carbone, “We use unique acoustic instrumentation, but we’re definitely not a bluegrass band – so that doesn’t fit. And I think the term ‘jam band’ probably refers more to the fans than to the band. I think these fans just like live music.” When the band does elect to “comment” on a song via an extended improvisation, they really cook – and have received the approval of no less than Grateful Dead bass player Phil Lesh, who knows a thing or two about jamming. Railroad Earth started out in 2001, a bunch of talented friends interested in strumming some rootsy music together. It began rather informally, but then picked up the pace when their five song demo earned them a spot at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival that June. Taking advantage of the opportunity, they quickly recorded five more songs, combined it with their demo tracks and released it as their debut, 2001’s The Black Bear Sessions. That debut piqued the interest of Sugar Hill Records, who signed them and released two highly acclaimed albums, Bird In A House in 2002 and The Good Life in 2004. Since then, they’ve cultivated a huge fan base, wound up by the band’s unique acoustic hybrid sound. Railroad Earth has come to thrive in a live setting; as evidenced on their 2006 live double album Elko (SCI Fidelity Records, 2006). Amen Corner (SCI Fidelity Records, June 2008), the band’s fourth studio album, was written and recorded in the winter of 2007 at Sheaffer’s 300-year old farmhouse in the rural New Jersey countryside. Compared to the sterility and stress of a commercial studio—where the cost-clock ticks and the pressure of performing under a budget looms large—recording at home is like heaven on earth… and Amen Corner captures that feeling from beginning to end. “Normally,” Sheaffer explains, “you come home after six weeks on the road and jump into the studio, all frazzled because you don’t have much left in the tank. This time I feel like we’ve invited our friends into our living room and that’s basically how we recorded it.” Amen Corner may be the early creative pinnacle of a gifted young band, and has all the makings of an Americana classic. It’s a collection of crisp and crafted Americana and acoustic roots sides that resonate in all the right places.