4.5 out of 5 stars
The opening mandolin and string arrangement of “Heart and Song,” the first track on Taarka’s Making Tracks Home, is as graceful and rich as anything played on the famed David Grisman and Tony Rice collaboration Tone Poems, and it serves to set the stage of this gorgeous, warm, hopeful and heart-wrenching album.
Of all of the art inspired by the devastating Colorado floods of 2013, the husband and wife team of David and Enion Pelta-Tiller, who together form the basis of Taarka, may have put together one of the most beautiful homages to date about the tragic event. The Tillers, residents of Lyons, sadly lost their home and studio to the breached banks of the St. Vrain River, and parts of Making Tracks Home speak specifically to that experience while other songs attempt to make sense of the aftermath.
The duo, which is joined by a myriad of guest musicians on the album, could have predictably started the album with a somber narrative of the storm and the ensuing calamity, but instead “Heart and Song” opens the story out of chronological order, to reveal the sanguine lyric “And so we rise up, my darling, and greet the new day, with open arms, and shall we be strong, and lovely, and never give up on heart and song.”
With a mix of Western and Eastern folk traditions, jazz, rock, bluegrass, old-time, gypsy, Indian, and Celtic music, Taarka dances through the album’s 12 tracks with ease and suppleness. From Enion’s ethereal and desperate “Moon Song” to the triumphant, almost-redemptive cadence of David’s “Another Morning,” the band rides a wave of emotions as gracefully as a fallen leaf sailing downriver. The spectacular accompaniment on Making Tracks Home features guitarist Ross Martin, bassist Sam Grisman, drummer Brian McCrae and a half-dozen other musicians that contribute everything from flugelhorn (Ron Miles) to bodhran (Zach Lester) and banjo (Dusty Rider).
Making Tracks Home embodies the spirit of Lyons’ rebirth, and as the Tillers explain in the album’s accompanying press release, they couldn’t be more proud of their town. “We’ve been traveling and playing music for many years as Taarka and are happy to call Lyons and the Front Range home, flood or no.”