When listening to Tea Leaf Green's new album it's hard not to be reminded of great jam bands such as The Grateful Dead, Phish, The String Cheese Incident and The Allman Brothers. They posses a laid back attitude and a country-rock sound style recalling The Grateful Dead specifically.
However, it's arguable that Tea Leaf Green have constructed a studio album much more focused than most jam band studio sessions. No song on the album runs over the 6:30 mark, and all feature solid lyrics with tight song construction. Something that even the Grateful Dead, although they are still unrilaved for live performances, managed to pull off with only one of their studio albums, American Beauty.
The opening song "The Garden (Part III)" is a country-rock piece that shows off the easy-going vibe eminating from Tea Leaf Green and lead singer Trevor Garrod's relaxing voice. He could be describing the song itself in the opening lyrics "Got a little bit of soul/ Got a little bit of rock n' roll in my bones."
The following track, "Taught to Be Proud," is in a similar vein and is perhaps the most enjoyable song on the album due to the good lyrics, tight composition, and fairly short running time.
For all this though, it's clear that Tea Leaf Green likes to jam. Although none of the songs on this album are "jam sessions" or were recorded live, instrumental breaks in songs such as "5000 Acres" highlight the bands flow, or chemistry, together. No doubt their live shows feature extended versions of these tracks.
On previous albums such as Midnight at the Reservoir, Tea Leaf Green experimented to a greater degree, veering into drastically different musical styles and even using a highly distorted vocal effect on the song "Sister Said." Midnight at the Reservoir was an accomplished album that further established Tea Leaf Green as a jam band to look out for, but felt unfocused and immature at points.
With Taught to be Proud, Tea Leaf Green have refined and focused on a more controlled sound yet have kept the playful energy and experimentation that makes them great to listen to and their songs catchy intact. In other words, they've grown up without losing their ability to have fun.