First Appeared at The Music Box, March 2003, Volume 10, #3
Written by John Metzger
Like many jambands, Ekoostik Hookah is a group that fares better in a concert setting than it does on disc. Save for 1998ís Where the Fields Grow Green, the group has hardly recorded anything worthy of repeated listening. After a lengthy wait between albums, last Springís Seahorse was an utter disappointment, and its follow-up Ohio Grown is merely a moderate improvement.
At least this time around, Ekoostik Hookah rests more firmly on what it does best ó seamlessly merging a variety of styles into a cohesive, classic rock-tinged format. Where Seahorse often sounded stifled and forced with its prog-rock moves, Ohio Grown grooves with a little more fluidity, and several of its tracks rank with the best the band has ever recorded. Dragonfly bounds through a blend of edgy, guitar-driven rock and bluegrass, offering both tight vocal harmonies and a promising beginning to the album. Likewise, the percussion-led Raging River ó arguably Ohio Grownís highlight ó borrows a bit from the Grateful Deadís Unbroken Chain, while never sounding like a carbon copy, and the concluding Deal with It is pure rural rapture.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of misfires too ó the title track struggles to get going before succumbing to its earthy beauty and then sliding back into mediocrity; Sweet Lucy glides with breezily buoyant simplicity, but ultimately goes nowhere; and Music alternates between transcendently funky jazz and tepid rock. Then there are the tunes that should have been left on the cutting room floor, namely the tiresome Another You; the negligible Godspeed; the blasť Pass the Cider, Pass the Rum; and the tedious Danciní Outlaw. For the most part, though, Ekoostik Hookah seems to be back on track, and even though the group often sounds like a veritable classic-rock jukebox, at least itís once again playing to its strengths.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box