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CD Review: Works Progress Administration “Works Progress Administration”

WPA webTaking its name from President Roosevelt’s 1939 New Deal initiative, Works Progress Administration (WPA) is a conglomeration of similarly minded musicians, crafting music that is meant to inspire and enlighten while it entertains. An impressive list of stellar talent has had a hand in steering the music that has found its way onto the self-titled debut record, due September 15. The founding members are listed as Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket), Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), and Luke Bulla (Jerry Douglas Band/Ricky Skaggs/Lyle Lovett), but substantial contributors include Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers), Greg Leisz (Joni Mitchell), Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello and the Imposters/Randy Newman), and Davey Faragher (Elvis Costello and the Imposters/Cracker). The founding fathers are regulars who interact at the legendary LA club, Largo, which is the very place Phillips recorded his 2003 live record.

As if that isn’t enough name dropping, WPA partnered with Jim Scott to do the engineering; he’s worked with the likes of Wilco and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. So with all this talent on board, is this project right on track or a messy train wreck?