As with many bands and artists, the pandemic forced the members of Fireside Collective to retreat into isolation – in their case, writing and recording new songs in a North Carolina cabin, thus substantially shrinking their world. Oddly, this time of withdrawal produced the band's most expansive album to date – an 11-track set that finds the quartet exploring new musical territory to further diversify a sound that already straddles traditional bluegrass and newgrass. The idea of growing while receding is an interesting paradox, but one that produces stellar results on "Across The Divide."
The first track, the toe-tapping "When You Fall," is a snappy slice of traditional bluegrass with amazing group harmonies on the chorus – a nice table setter.
The exploration starts on the next track, "Let It Ride." Propelled by Alex Genova on banjo and Jesse Iaquinto on mandolin, this one's slightly funky with sweet little instrumental flourishes from Tommy Maher on Dobro throughout and a melody reminiscent of The Beatles' "She Came In through The Bathroom Window."
With "Not Today," the band delivers a classic country end-of-relationship ballad, while "Running Wild Again," is a poppy piece of contemporary country or folk rock that could easily garner radio play.
"Code Switch," the only instrumental track, showcases both the musicians' technical proficiency and Genova's ability to pen a catchy melody. Of note here is the outstanding lead passages by both Genova and guitarist Joe Cicero.
Fireside Collective flexes its newsgrass muscle on "And The Rain Came Down," an banjo-driven tune featuring top-notch harmony vocals and musical sections that seem custom-made for jam band-style explorations in a live performance setting.