Like each of Rusted Root's previous four albums, Welcome to My Party is lopsided, containing a few really great songs, a handful of nice moments spread over twice as many tracks, and a couple rather f

Like each of Rusted Root's previous four albums, Welcome to My Party is lopsided, containing a few really great songs, a handful of nice moments spread over twice as many tracks, and a couple rather forgettable tunes. This time around, the rousing title track, the serene "Why Cry," and "Blue Diamonds," a lovely, cinematic ballad, prove to be the gems. The '70s soul-inflected "Union 7" and "People of My Village"—which slyly melds Deadhead and dancefloor sonics—emerge as runners-up. Producer Bill Bottrell's (Sheryl Crow, Tom Petty) return is certainly felt, as is the return of vocalist Jenn Wertz. But, ultimately, Welcome proves unsatisfying. Ever since its sunny 1994 single, "Send Me on My Way," broke things open for the hard-touring Pittsburgh act, Rusted Root seems only to have inched toward making a career-defining album. While Welcome clearly isn't it—merely teasing fans in the same way as 1996's Remember—it seems to prove that reuniting with Bottrell (especially after 1998's disappointing self-titled effort) was a smart move. Yet, it seems like the songs just weren't there yet. Here's hoping for more gems next time.—WO