The Contribution | 'Which Way World' | Review

Born out of the friendly and wooded confines of a Hornings Hideout gathering in 2005, comes a jamband supergroup of sorts called The Contribution.  The project fronted by Tim Carbone (fiddle/vocals) of Railroad Earth brings together seasoned veterans Jeff Miller (guitar/vocals) and Phil Ferlino (keys) of New Monsoon, as well as Keith Moseley (bass) and Jason Hann (drums) of The String Cheese Incident to form a collaborative effort of totally original songs.

With some downtime over the last six months, the group was finally ready to hit the studio and start recording.  The final result, dubbed Which Way World, is a mellow, alt-country concept album.  Lyrically, it is a very reflective look on our broken society and ponders the direction we as humans are heading.  Not quite the happy-go-lucky tunes one might expect from these jam heroes, as it is filled with socio-political undertones and cautious optimism.

Fear is a strongly referenced emotion throughout many of these songs, evident in the rollicking blues tune "Fear of Nothing" or the meandering "Better Days".  Even the melodic title track asks "which way world, are you gonna go?"  Another tune, "Samsara", has an Old West feel to it that describes "oceans of tears and wheels of suffering".

The disc starts off energetically with the twangy, swampy jam vehicle "Come Around" before the rest of the album kind of drags its feet in the mud.  Musically, these five deliver upon their immense talent but stumble in structure.  With the exception of the closing track "Year of Jubilee", the rest of the album is slightly depressing and a bit too slow.

All is not lost though; there is some exceptional guitar work by the underappreciated Jeff Miller as well as some beautifully haunting fiddle sections by Carbone.  The rest of the band also lend their respective talents to the project wonderfully.  And these songs will likely take on new life once they are performed, and reformed, in a live setting (as of press time the group had two confirmed shows in Denver and San Francisco).

But Which Way World leaves a lot to be desired from these well-known musicians.  Because of the personnel the potential was there to create a very uplifting, high-energy, jam-rocking album.  Instead, listeners get a dark and dreary product that falls short of expectations.