Today, perennial roots-rock favorites Railroad Earth released “The Great Divide,” the first single from their new album, All For The Song, due out in 2020. Famously known for their genre-bending implementation of bluegrass instruments in non-traditional styles and arrangements, Railroad Earth — Todd Sheaffer (guitar), Tim Carbone (violin), John Skehan (mandolin), Carey Harmon (drums), and Andrew Altman (bass) — have always subscribed to the get-in-where-you-fit-in mentality.
“We walk on either side of a line,” Skehan says. “The bluegrass influence is primarily in instrumentation—having a banjo, fiddle, mandolin, upright bass, and guitar – but it’s still a rock band.”
In “The Great Divide,” the band plays it close to home, never straying too far from their string band influences, and never needing to. The song reads somewhere between an old-timey gospel number and a modern meditation on death and what comes next. The opening line, “there’s tellin’ of a better home a-waitin’, waitin’ on the other side,” sets the tone for the rest of the song, describing a better life or after-life “across these troubled waters; across the great divide.” It’s a touching tribute to Railroad Earth founder and multi-instrumentalist Andy Goessling, who passed away in October of 2018, and a fitting first single from All For The Song, the band’s first full-length album without Goessling. “The Great Divide” is now available via Youtube and will be available tomorrow for purchase and streaming.
From January to March 2020, Railroad Earth are heading to a hefty number of our nation’s finest and most time-honored live music venues, including two nights at San Francisco’s famed Fillmore, The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, First Ave in Minneapolis, and a two-night run at D.C. favorite, 9:30 Club. In these rooms, All For The Song’s arrangements will take on entirely new forms and facades night to night. “We don’t typically play stuff before we record it. It gets recorded, then we play it live,” Altman says. “That’s when we really find out what the song’s personality is and what really works.” Tickets are available now via the band’s fanclub. General on-sale begins at 10 A.M. local time on Friday, Nov. 1. Stay tuned to the band’s socials and website for additional 2020 tour dates.
Editor’s note: under our usual editorial rules, we would not have published this release because the group is not local, and none of the announced tour dates are within Orange County. (The closest location is the Teragram Ballroom on 7th Street in downtown Los Angeles.) We’ve made an exception because we have a soft spot for bluegrass, for music that is not yelling at us, for lyrics that can be understood while listening, and for railroads. We hope that Railroad Earth will find a tour venue within our coverage area!