After some lineup changes, the San Francisco boys in Tea Leaf Green are back in business with Raise Up the Tent. New bassist Reed Mathis fits right in with the band and the effort shows. Raise Up the Tent offers the most fluid album to date. “Let Us Go” starts off with a rambunctious guitar strum and Scott Rager’s precise drumbeat. Then, Trevor Garrod’s vocals begin to drift in.
Tea Leaf Green has always offered a jam-packed performance, and has delivered musically on their previous albums. Yet they have occasionally missed the mark with lyrical content. This time around, however, they sound more matured and the lyrics play out like good stories. “Don’t Curse The Night” finds Mathis melodically bouncing the ball as things get started. “Where is everyone, hiding the love? What are you on? Do you have some, to share with me? Or should I give up? Should I go back to sleep?.”
“Red Ribbons” rocks in typical Tea Leaf fashion. Josh Clark leads the charge with boisterous guitar and Garrod’s swirling keys hide shallowly beneath. “Innocence” offers big melodies and joyous harmonies, Gerrod singing, “I wish I was Innocent. I wish I could believe in it. I know what I want. Know what I can get. I wish I was innocent. Wish I was Innocent.” The band is joined by Aaron Redner on violin; the new instrumentation adds a massive new and successful element to the sound.
Garrod’s dancing piano lines on “Not Fit” keep it lively and tickle the ears a little bit. “Borrowed Time” finds Mathis playing cello and the band sounding Beatles-esque; however, the song opens up to become more Sabbath than Beatles. “Standing Still” offers up that classic San Francisco/ Grateful Dead influenced sound, one of many influences that shine in this band’s sound. Some have been there awhile, and others show continuous growth in the music and taste.
Raise Up The Tent is certainly a must have in the lineage to greatness. Tea Leaf Green has talent. The addition of Reed Mathis’ genius will certainly push the music in the right direction, and their commitment to the road will keep them lurching forward toward new fans.
Raise Up the Tent is out now on Surf Dog.