Hippie crew takes a magical mystery tour of New Orleans
For their fourth album, Alex Ebert and his hippie-vibes collective shambled to New Orleans, fusing light psychedelia with lighter R&B and jazz touches for music that often goes down like acid-spiked gumbo. Songs are as gaping as the seven-minute dashiki-ragtime reverie “Hot Coals,” and as campfire-warm as “The Ballad of Yaya,” a down-home-trippy intimation of mortality. The yaya factor is high indeed, and Ebert sings like a stoned Muppet. But his tuneful ease keeps the whimsy from dissolving into the pie-eyed ether.