Music News

18 Switchbacks

The self-titled debut from Boulder's 18 Switchbacks is essentially the very pleasing result of several former Deadheads and Colorado Americana/jam-band veterans getting serious about bluegrass songwriting. The romantically dusty lyrics and harmonies of dual singer-songwriter-guitarists Matt Wallwork and Tim Johnston are continuously beautiful throughout the seven-track EP, and upbeat bluegrass workouts such as "I Once Was" are nicely juxtaposed with mid-tempo country rock and tearjerker ballads. In a few spots — the bridge in "Clouds in 3," for instance — Johnston openly goes all out in what seems like an ill-fated quest for Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio's tone and touch. But when 18 Switchbacks relies solely on hard-fought execution and emotion — the essence of bluegrass — the spoils are glorious. Not to mention sincere: Gigging heavily all over Colorado, Idaho and Portland recently, members of 18 Switchbacks are living the ramblin' life they sing about in songs like "Goin' Down the Mountain."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Pittsburgh native Adam Perry is a cyclist, drummer and University of Pittsburgh and Naropa University alum. He lives in Boulder and has written for Westword since 2008.
Contact: Adam Perry