“Only a River” – Bob Weir

Bob Weir returns for the first time since 2000.

Even at 68 years old, Bob Weir is still expanding his sound. Blue Mountain, the newest release from the guitarist and vocalist of the Grateful Dead, is nothing like a Dead album: It’s more like a National record written by John Denver. Weir combines the sound of contemporary Americana with the rustic sound of folk rock and slows everything down, creating a solemn and compelling collection of songs.

“Only a River,” which is co-written with Josh Ritter, is a highlight of Blue Mountain. It’s a vulnerable, reflective track, in which Weir contemplates his deep connection to the American West. It sounds like it could have been recorded from the top of a mountain, with the light ringing of the guitars fading in and out like half-forgotten memories.  As Weir sings, “Only a river going to make things right,” he evokes a sense of nostalgia for Shenandoah, even if the listener hasn’t been there.