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The Wayback Machine

One gets the feeling from the fifth CD by The Wayback Machine that when the group gathers in the recording studio, it's like throwing a potluck dinner. The core group of guitarist Tom Woolley, bassist Bev Seckinger, percussionist Jim Lipson and drummer Steve Kemble sets an inviting table, and lots of their friends bring something to it. The tastes include blues, boogie-rock, reggae, country and bluegrass, and sometimes, the dishes get a tad mixed up, creating unique flavors.

This means that the band's broad focus becomes The Wayback Machine's strongest characteristic. Multiple personalities are a given in a band with four lead vocalists, a constantly changing lineup of guests and choices of cover tunes that range from Bob Dylan to Rosie Flores, and from Michael Franti and Spearhead to Pink Floyd.

While Seckinger's got the sweetest voice--and the tunes on which she sings are the most solidly in the alt-country/Americana tradition--Woolley pens some charming originals, such as the Appalachian-meets-Cajun ramble "Bluegrass Gumbo."

The best groove jells on Franti's "Sweet Little Lies," especially when saxophonist Amo Chip Dabney trades lines with guitarist Mitzi Cowell. Not surprisingly, Wayback does a nice job on the Beatles chestnut "The Word," but you might be shocked when you realize that the bouncy Western jam featuring electric guitar, fiddle, banjo and sax is "Another Brick in the Wall (Parts 1, 2 and 3)." You get your meat and your pudding.

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