On its debut album, A New Road Home, young acoustic trio The Weathered Road proves it can work competently within an idiom: American folk, with a tinge of Celtic influence. The local band (by way of Asheville, N.C., and West Virginia) knows its context and makes pleasant sounds, even if this recording seems to lack a certain verve and spontaneity.
Take, for instance, the opening track, "Carpe Diem." The overall vibe, as one would expect from a song of that title, is positive and inspirational: "Go even if you think / No one will follow," it opens. But the pace is sluggish, the chorus delivery nearly mournful. If sincerity is intended, perhaps picking up the pace would help the listener feel it; if it's supposed to be more nuanced and ironic, we need more clues.
The band cites CSNY as a major influence, but one can also hear references to folk revivalists like Fairport Convention, as well as contemporary jam bands and storytelling folk. Main songwriter Christopher Bell may find his muse most easily in the song "Galveston 1900," a historical recounting of a hurricane. The rhythms and structures of his songwriting seem more pertinent to this type of tune than the album's more introspective songs, where they can at times come off as forced or trite.
What The Weathered Road has working for it is both instrumental and vocal proficiency -- Bell and fiddle player Libby Eddy have strong voices well suited to the music. The songwriting presented is, on the whole, good enough, but not spectacular; time will tell if the band will manage to track down the je ne sais quoi that might make it a major player.
The Weathered Road CD-release show, with Rising Regina and Tom Breiding. 8:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 18. Hard Rock Café, Station Square. $5. 412-481-7625