Archive for August 2008
Walls Fall Down
Kimmie Rhodes, the perpetually pleasant Texas songwriter, returns with another finely crafted collection of understated songs and vocal treats that will find favour with the folk festival crowd.
One of the most interesting vocalists within the Americana genre, Rhodes’s latest release is comprised of twelve songs, the majority originals. The songs are universally evocative of relationships, reflections, and experiences, both favourable and challenging, which are applicable to most mature adults.
Two familiar songs If I Needed You and The Fool on the Hill provide the album with a historical foundation of influence. But it is Rhodes’s own creations that provide Walls Fall Down its strength. The politically minded Your Majesty fires a salvo at those who lead without skill (“How did anyone like you get to where you’ve gotten to?”) There’s A Storm Coming focuses on environmental concerns, while I’ve Been Loved By You is a song of thanks. The latter song has a particularly pleasing arrangement that cries out for radio play without succumbing to obviousness.
In places, as on All in All, Rhodes sounds a bit like Iris Dement, a trait that can be heard going back to her earliest recordings, and elsewhere there are little Kate Campbell touches, but that is about as close as one comes when making vocal comparisons. Rhodes is her own singer, and her sweet, breezy style is admirable.
Instrumentally, the album is as laid back and easy going as Rhodes’s vocal style. Individual credits are not provided, but the contributions of the rhythm section of John Gardner and Glen Fukunaga are notable.
Walls Fall Down will not overwhelm listeners; instead it gently caresses and embraces while providing insights that can be repeatedly appreciated. If you like Emmylou, maybe give Kimmie a try.
Justin Townes Earle
The Good Life
Burdened (or blessed) with heavy monikers from two legendary hardcore troubadours, on The Good Life Steve’s son and Van Zandt’s namesake demonstrates that if he isn’t quite ready to be seriously discussed in the same conversations as those who so obviously influenced him, he is more than ready to write his own story.
In his mid-twenties, Justin Townes Earle’s Bloodshot debut is more than impressive and should remove any doubts that he is getting by only on the family name. The collection is a succinct summary of his progression from festival stage tag-along and victim of familial weakness to a songwriter whose songs deserve a second and third listen.
The album kicks off with the relationship defining line “It’s hard livin’ lovin’ you.” The title track takes things up a notch while staying within a loping melody Jimmie Rodgers would have found comfortable. The album, in general, has a retro-country vibe captured by a crew of Nashville musicians.
The spirit of Buck Owens seems to pervade “What Do You Do When You’re Lonesome” with “Turn Out My Lights” capturing the sparse isolation of many Townes Van Zandt songs. “Lone Pine Hill” wouldn’t be out of place on a Scott Miller disc; not a word is extraneous, and each line furthers the description of one man’s Civil War experience.
Justin Townes Earle may be dismissed by some, but on The Good Life he has demonstrated that there is more to his talent than his name.
Best Loved Bluegrass
For almost fifty years, Rebel Records has captured some of the finest bluegrass music recorded. With few exceptions, most of the legends of the music- from Ralph Stanley to Ricky Skaggs- have passed through the Rebel roster.
Collecting twenty all-time favourites of bluegrass music in this hour-long volume, the Rebel archivists present as fine an entry point to the music as one could hope. However, even those with large collections of bluegrass music may find something new on this inexpensive but finely composed compilation.
From a haunting take of “Darling Corey” (The Seldom Scene) to the definitive rendition of “Bringing Mary Home” (The Country Gentlemen), there is no shortage of incredible bluegrass performances. All the jam standards are included- “Nine Pound Hammer”, “Fox on the Run”, “Pig in a Pen”, “Poor Ellen Smith”, “Footprints in the Snow”, and “Dream of a Miner’s Child”.
The artists comprise a Who’s Who of the bluegrass legends roll call with The Stanley Brothers, Del McCoury, J. D. Crowe, Lost & Found, Reno & Smiley, Whitley & Skaggs, Tony Rice and more represented.
What I especially love about this type of compilation is that it gives under-heard artists a chance to be ‘discovered’ by the greater bluegrass community. Dave Evans is one of the music’s finest voices but too few know his music; his reading of “Down in the Willow Garden” is timeless and is a perfect introduction to the man. Similarly, the Lilly Brothers & Don Stover, The Boys from Indiana, Ted Lundy, and Emerson & Waldron are not commonly known to many bluegrass fans.
With an emphasis on recordings made during the 60’s and 70’s, Best Loved Bluegrass captures a time when legendary performers shared the Rebel label with those who would go on to further define bluegrass. While many of the performances appear ‘traditional’ from a contemporary perspective, many of these artists were on the cutting edge of bluegrass at one time.
The Earl Brothers
www.EarlBrothers.com and www.CDBaby.com
While overhauled in personnel, Robert Earl Davis’s band retains its unique sound. Deliberately under-annunciated, hard scrabble vocals complement tight instrumentation that is dark, rough, and never fancy- the complete antithesis of the prevalent slick, high-browed bluegrass that is mostly ignored in this space.
Original in sound, attitude, and material, the Earl Brothers’ third album finds the four-piece moving forward while retaining all the elements- troubles, whiskey, women, and death- fans have come to appreciate. The Earl Brothers’ approach to bluegrass is so fresh and natural and their sound so identifiable, listeners are likely to either love or hate this California-based band.
The album starts off bad (“Headed out west, with nothing to lose, Walking those streets an’ wore out my shoes; pain an’ sorrow, won’t go away, I’ll be a loner till my dying day”) and just gets worse. That’s from the lead track “Train of Sorrow.”
A more sorry collection of characters haven’t been heard from in bluegrass since the last Earl Brothers’ disc. It’s beautiful really.
Robert Earl Davis is a cleaner singer than the departed John McKelvy, and he does all the heavy lifting on this disc. As much as McKelvy’s vocal contributions- both lead and harmony- to the previous Troubles to Blame and Whiskey, Women, & Death albums were enjoyed and important, the band has carried on in fine form.
Davis handles all but one of the lead vocals this time out, with mandolinist Larry Hughes taking over on “Going Walking.” Davis is as distinctive a vocalist in his own right as Del McCoury, James King, or Larry Sparks- when he is singing, you know who it is. The fact is not everyone likes the way he chooses to sing or the music he creates, and that’s fair. After three albums, one is either an Earlite or one isn’t.
A Hughes instrumental “Crossing Richmond” gives the band a chance to show their ability to create bright, Monroeified bluegrass that is dynamic, crisp, and positively peppy.
They follow this up this winning tune with “Troubles to Blame,” one of their stronger numbers; this song has it all- its subject matter is lonesome and pitiful, the instruments work together to create a tapestry of bluegrass sounds where each individual note can be heard from the four instruments, and the subtle harmony on the chorus vocal doesn’t over-power the mood of the song with false cheer.
Davis has a tendency to create songs that seem familiar- for example, “Heartbreak Game” and “Moonshine”- with lyrics that surprise while simultaneously being innately appropriate to the song and situation being described. He is a true innovator on the bluegrass circuit.
For me, Moonshine is among the most notable bluegrass albums of the year, and is highly recommended for bluegrassers looking for something unique and adventurous Americana and roots fans who are open to bluegrass sounds.
As Patty Loveless did with the Mountain Soul album, Coal finds Kathy Mattea returning to her rural roots. Years removed from Nashville’s charts, Mattea reflects on the influence coal mines and coalminers have had on her family and her West Virginia neighbours.
Produced by Marty Stuart, himself in the midst of career resurgence away from the spotlight, Coal is successful on many levels, not the least of which is as a vehicle for Mattea’s considerable pipes. She has always been able to sing with control, but seems to have become more comfortable with her voice the further she has moved from the constraints of popular country success. Her pitch is remarkable; never does she over-extend herself.
Few will argue with the song selection, but I will. That Mattea has chosen songs from real mountain folks- Jean Ritchie, Hazel Dickens, Billy Edd Wheeler, and others- is appropriate, and the songs are worthy of being heard again and again. But few of these songs are recent, with most having been written thirty years and more ago. The notable exception is Darrell Scott’s “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” not coincidently recorded by Loveless on the previously mentioned album. As a result, the album feels a little safe, and it would have been nice for the production team to look wider for less well-known coal-related songs.
Still, Mattea’s performance is stellar, and the instrumentation- just on the relaxed side of bluegrass- from a group of acoustic whizzes can’t be touched. Their notes frame not only the words sung, but extend the images immortalized.
With the songs familiar, it is left to Mattea to make these renditions memorable, and she does that; while no one sings like Ritchie or Dickens, Mattea pays tribute not only to miners, but to the song crafters who told their stories.
Kathy Mattea has made a lot of albums, and I’ve heard most of them. Never have I enjoyed one more than Coal.
Jimmy Gaudreau & Moondi Klein
Seldom does it get better than this, the debut album from long-time bluegrass buddies Jimmy Gaudreau & Moondi Klein. 2:10 Train is a near perfect offering of acoustiblue music: two instruments and two voices- Klein’s lead and guitar and Gaudreau’s harmony and mandolin.
The album is a thoroughly contemporary portrait of two individuals performing the music they love in an unadorned manner. Not bluegrass by definition- such is impossible in a duo format without the 5-string banjo- 2:10 Train is reminiscent of the best Tim O’Brien recordings in that very clean instrumentation is blended with country- and mountain-influenced vocals in a way that incorporates elements common to folk and bluegrass.
The pair are acoustic veterans, and both are more than impressive musicians with Gaudreau one of the finest mandolinists working within the bluegrass genre.
Electing to record largely familiar numbers, Gaudreau and Klein take listeners on a comfortable visitation of their influences by performing songs with Celtic shades (“Black Jack Davey” and “Colleen Malone”), folk foundations (Tom Paxton’s “Last Thing on my Mind” and the venerable “Shady Grove”), and bluegrass or old-time roots (“Dixie Hoedown” and a simply brilliant interpretation of “Arkansas Traveler/Soldier’s Joy” that owes just a bit to Doc Watson).
For the album’s strongest cut, I lean toward a mournful rendering of Eric Bogle’s “And the Band Played ‘Waltzing Matilda’”; in times like these, this anthem is especially poignant, and Klein’s voice- so smooth with James Taylor leanings- causes the listener to ache with knowledge of the song’s story.
2:10 Train was released a few months ago, and is highly recommended for all fans of acoustic roots and bluegrass music.
The Best of Larry Sparks: Bound to Ride
Larry Sparks isn’t everyone’s cup o’ drink. In public, he appears a bit aloof, some would say stand-offish. I’ve heard people claim he isn’t really a bluegrass performer because too few of his songs are fast-paced burners; he might be a good country singer, but not bluegrass. Still others have no idea who Larry Sparks is.
For the uninitiated, Larry Sparks has been performing his brand of bluegrass throughout the southern United States for forty-plus years. He first came to attention singing with Ralph Stanley in the Clinch Mountain Boys, and has been leading The Lonesome Ramblers since 1969. Sparks has always done things his own way, and has seldom found himself a part of the bluegrass ‘in-crowd’ despite being universally revered by bluegrass singers and musicians far and wide. It has only been in the past several years that Sparks has elected to regularly tour outside the Bluegrass Belt, and he made what I believe was his first Alberta appearance a year ago at Blueberry. In both 2004 and 2005 Sparks was recognized by the membership of International Bluegrass Music Association as Male Vocalist of the Year.
For those who are familiar with Larry Sparks, indulge me for a moment. Think of your favourite Larry Sparks song. “John Deere Tractor”? It’s here. “You Ain’t Lived”? Yup. “Tennessee 1949”? Naturally. “Smokey Mountain Memories”? Yes. “Blue Virginia Blues.” That one, too. They are all here in this economically priced, single disc compilation chock ’o block with fourteen of Sparks’ most beloved songs.
Each is the original recording from five different Rebel albums released between 1980 and 2003. Additionally, there are a few treasures from records released on the King Bluegrass label in the mid-70s.
While there are no instrumentals included, the various incarnations of the Lonesome Ramblers have more than a few opportunities to display their gifts throughout the album. Wendy Miller’s mandolin kick-off to “Just Lovin’ You” makes one sit up and take notice, and the haunting, lonesome atmosphere created by the 1983 crew on “Imitation of the Blues” has frequently been copied but never duplicated. Hearing Barry Crabtree- recently through our area with the Charlie Sizemore Band- playing the 5-string on “I’d Like To Be A Train” from twenty years ago sheds a little light on how long some of the folks we enjoy as sidemen have been perfecting their craft.
Larry Sparks isn’t flashy. He doesn’t brag on himself, and he is a man of few words. He’s unassuming and matter of fact. And he can sing a bluegrass song like no one.
Folks like Alison Krauss and Dale Ann Bradley near worship the man, and it’s safe to say that they know bluegrass. After listening to The Best of Larry Sparks: Bound to Ride you’re bound to know bluegrass a little better.
I was only able to attend one day of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival this year. As I get older, I do find that one day is enough for me! However, I would love to be able to attend for more days; maybe I need to move closer to Edmonton! In the past I’ve been fortunate to attend the festival for the duration- four days and nights- and have been exposed to some wonderful music. But, I really can’t stand the crowds, but more on that later. Forgive me on the lack of details in places; I hadn’t attended the festival with the intention of writing about it, so I didn’t take any notes. Oops.
I drove up to Edmonton on Saturday morning. I had initially planned on going up on Friday night to catch the Dan Tyminski Band, but didn’t make it. I was told that their performance was good, but not essential so I felt a little better. After parking and taking the bus to Gallagher Hill, I was on-site in time to spend a few minutes in the merchandise tent and buy a new release of a Tom Russell Band show from 1989 in Lyon, France; I’ll review that one someday soon.
I had planned out my day at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival prior to arriving; with so many artists performing at the same time- and a bit of a walk between stages (minimum of eight or nine minutes between stages six and one)- time spent considering the options is usually well spent. However, like my plan to attend Friday evening, such plans need to have some flexibility built in. I ended up attending about two-thirds of the sessions I had planned on, with last minute decisions changing things up.
I headed over to Stage Six to listen in on the In Harmony session with Martyn Joseph, the Claire Lynch Band, and Moya Brennan (Clannad). However, as I neared Stage Four, I could hear Tom Russell singing, and decided to pop in for a listen. He had started his session several minutes early, and we were treated to a number (can’t remember what it was) before Tom introduced Dan Frechette and Ridley Bent in turn. Frechette was well matched with TR, and performed music of a similar fashion. Bent cuts across genres although he is more country than anything else; he performed a couple songs (“Buckles and Boots”) including one from his first album in his country-rap fashion; I think it was “Suicidewinder.” Russell told a couple stories, including one I hadn’t heard before about being in Switzerland with Johnny Cash; he did a little impression of Cash’s interpretation of “Veteran’s Day.” Russell also performed “Stealing Electricity” as well as a new song. By the way, I hate Stage Four; it seems to be the worst stage for sound bleed as Stage Three always seems loud here. I never did get to Stage Six.
After this session I walked next door and caught the end of Too Cool For School session at Stage Five. Luke Ducet and Melissa McClelland were performing the “I Wish I was An American” tune, and got lots of laughs from the appreciative mass. Good fun.
Next up were John Reischman & the Jaybirds, a well-respected bluegrass band that I hadn’t planned on sticking around for as I have seen them live many, many times and I really wanted to see Eliza Gilkyson. The Jaybirds are always brilliant, however, and so I got a good shaded seat in front of the sound board and listened to several Jaybirds songs. The set was fairly familiar with songs from each of their four albums. “Bravest Cowboy” started things off, as it often does, and then “Winter’s Come and Gone”, “North Shore”, “Blackberry Bramble”, “Travelin’ The Road West”, and other tunes. Greg Spatz played some really sweet fiddle during “North Shore” and Reischman was note perfect in a Monroe style. As much as I was enjoying the set, I sensed I wasn’t going to hear anything ‘new’, so I hustled over to Stage One for some Eliza, and am I ever glad I did.
Joined by Nina Gerber- who I’m told is a brilliant guitarist (to me, it just sounded like every other electric guitar player I’ve heard…sorry)- Eliza was in the midst of “Tender Mercies” as I walked up. The especially large audience was silent. A special moment. She also performed (if memory serves) “Emerald Street” before I got called away to talk to a friend.
I was sorry that I hadn’t spent more time with Eliza, but that is the way it goes sometimes; I did get the sense that I was falling into the trap of trying to see too many things, and did vow to slow down for the rest of the day.
Heading back to Stage Five to meet up with friends, I was able to listen to the entire set from Wales’ Martyn Joseph. I had circled this one in my program, and since my friends also wanted to hear it, I was excited to hear Joseph again. I think the last time I caught him was here in Red Deer in 2004 at a little show in a (fair) dive called the Vat; talk about a wierd gig for a ‘word-heavy’ singer-songwriter. Joseph did his usual thing, and he was in fine form. I do wonder what all the folkies will do next year when they don’t have George Bush to kick around, but it sure was fun to hear them do so this time out. He performed “Cardiff Bay” as well as the song where he mixes in Tracy Chapman’s “Talking About a Revolution.” I enjoyed the set, but it did have a bit of ‘same-ness’ to it. After about twenty-five minutes, my friend stated, “I think it was David Francey I liked” which was funny. I guess he wasn’t enjoying MJ as much as I was. [Addition: Since the fest., I've been listening to MJ almost non-stop. He just gets better with additional listening.]
By this time, it was 2:00, and the main stage afternoon set with Bellowhead was ready to start. I guess I’d describe them as Chumbawamba crossed with Great Big Sea with Rory McLeod sitting in. A few jigs and reel type instrumentals, a few sea shanty type songs. Good enough, but nothing that changed my life.
By this time, I was tired of walking, and decided to stay in one area. So I gave up on my initial choice of Redemption Song with Joseph, Eliza, Jon Brooks, and Karine Polwart and headed to Stage One for Above the 49th. It turned out to be the type of session I hate in that each of the sets of musicians would stand up, perform a song, sit down, and then the next would do a tune. Next to no interaction between them. Having said that…it turned out great.
Serena Ryder was there with Hugh McLellan and did a few songs. The youngster with us was quite smitten with Ryder, and while she isn’t my favourite performer I do see what others like. She did a blistering version of the Band’s “This Wheel’s On Fire.” Reischman was hosting this one, and he and the Jaybirds did a few tunes including “Home Sweet Home” while Catherine MacLellan was also present. Things really picked up at the end when everyone finally got involved and Jim Nunally led them through a rendition of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain”…at least that is what I hope it was- the memory, again. Whatever it was, it was terrific. You’d think I could remember! (added: Just confirmed with my friend that it was “EMR” that the workshop crew jammed on. The memory isn’t as bad as I thought, although it is bad enough to doubt.)
I then headed to the nearby Stage Seven to hear Colin Hay. The site for this stage is, unlike all the other stages at the EFMF, a bit limited, and the space was filled to overflowing. It was here that the crowd got to me. This lady sitting near me didn’t stop talking for the entire forty minute set. Not once. And she wasn’t talking about music or the festival, just visiting in a very loud voice. Her friends were right in there with her; no good neighbours here. I just don’t get it. If you want to visit, why sit at one of the side stages to do it; go to your tarp on the hill, go to the beer garden. What a pain…and that was enough to send me into a pout of negativity! I just hate the rudeness, especially when I really want to hear the artist.
Hay took awhile to get going- a bit of tech fiddling- but started out with “Who Will It Be Now” before heading into tunes like “Beautiful World” and “Are You Lookin’ at Me?” He told a few funny stories including about his family’s migration from Scotland to Australia; they had considered Canada, but why go to another place with bad weather! He also performed “Down Under” which I guess he pretty much has to. His accompanying female vocalist was very, ummm, strange. Lots of trippy hand movements and swaying. I didn’t quite get her. A very good set, though. Really regretting I didn’t buy his album “Are You Lookin’ At Me?” at the merch tent, especially as it isn’t on eMusic, like I was hoping it would be. Another time. [Addition: And that time is now! “Are You Talking to Me?” was just added to eMusic on August 13!)
The final session I was going to attend was supposed to be Tom Russell’s concert- even though I said I wasn’t going to walk again-, and I did walk back across the site for the beginning of his show. I stayed around for about four or five songs, and while it was okay, I wasn’t blown away. So I headed over to the other concert I had wanted to hear, which was Dar Williams. I love Dar, but after about four songs, I wasn’t able to tell the songs apart. However, I stayed around, and she did a few that were nice, including “The Ocean”, “When I Was A Boy”, and of course “The Christians and the Pagans.” She did a few new tunes as well. I love her sense of fun, how can you not, but- like Martyn Joseph (whom she mistakenly called Joseph Martyn) and Ron Sexsmith, the songs kind of run together.
The main stage started up again at six, and I wanted to hear Ron Sexsmith. I was able to sit with my friends again, and we did a little visiting- not noisy!- while letting Sexsmith’s easy breezy sounds float over us. He did real nice versions of “Gold in those Hills” and “Brandy Alexander.”
I used to think Carolyn Mark was my least favourite festival MC. She has been replaced by Al Simmons.
I had planned on heading home after Sexsmith, but decided to see what Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet with Bela Fleck would be like. I had enjoyed her disc of a couple years back- Song of the Traveling Daughter- and was intrigued. That didn’t last long. The reviews the next day were good, but I just found it boring. Excessivelly so. So, I headed out to make the long journey home.
It was a real good day, and I heard a lot of enjoyable stuff. Nothing really blew me away, and Tom Russell’s concert- for the first time ever- kind of disappointed me although I have nothing tangible to base that on. I wish I had found time to hear John Wort Hannam, who I always enjoy, and Moya Brennan, if even just for a song or two. The next morning they had her as well as Jon Brooks live on the radio, and I really liked his stuff. Missed him too. That’s the problem with the folk fest- too many choices. If only Terry Wickham would consult me on the sessions schedule, I’d be able to help him plan things a bit better! Start with what I want to hear, and plan around that.
The sessions offered on this day were okay, but not earthshattering. And definitely there wasn’t enough interaction between the participants, at least at the stages I was at. And the programmer missed a chance for a real banjo spectacular- with Bela Fleck, Alison Brown, Abigail Washburn, Craig Korth, Nick Harbuckle, and Jayme Stone all on site, we could have had a real good time with 5-string masters who play in very different styles.
It is likely good that I don’t go to the area folk and bluegrass festivals for the full weekend. I am tired of people who talk while I’m trying to listen. It happens everywhere- including concerts- and it drives me nuts. But the Edmonton Folk Music Festival- despite the presence of idiots- is always well organized, and nicely programmed. I wish I could have been there for more of it- for the Tyminski band, Brett Dennam, and others- but if I had to choose a day, and I did, I’m glad I chose this one. Well done EFMF and all the volunteers. Even the portapotties weren’t too gross. Nice.
North to Ontario 2007
As much as those of us in Western Canada hate to admit it, the Central Canadian bluegrass scene is a vibrant one. For the second time, Gene Gouthro and Tom McCreight of Ontario’s Silverbirch band have assembled a fine representation of that province’s various shades of bluegrass.
All but one of the songs are originals written by the Ontario-based musicians. Names familiar to those who have followed Ontario bluegrass are included. The Good Brothers contribute a brilliant little number entitled “Guide Me Back Home,” while the Backwoodsmen do not have to go far to wring emotion from Lorne Buck’s “An Angel Is Waiting.” Bill White and White Pine perform a nice Sheila Calthorpe song “Mom’s Still on the Homestead.”
The Emery Lester Set contributes a tune, as does the amalgam of Central Canadian Bluegrass Instrumentalist Award winners; dubbed the Central Canada All-Stars, the quintet perform a rollicking new instrumental, “The Night Nurse.”
Bluegrass youth is represented by the breathy vocals of Alicia Robicheau (“One and One Makes Three”) and Taylor Aran (“Francis Roy.”)
With memorable contributions from The C-Denny Band, Silverbirch, Pat Moore, Switchback Road, and almost twenty Ontario bluegrass performers, there is a lot to digest within North to Ontario 2007. An ambitious project that is beautifully presented, Gouthro and McCreight should receive well-deserved ‘Atta boys’ for assembling a completely enjoyable collection of bluegrass music.
The Charlie Sizemore Band
Charlie Sizemore, long ago the lead singer for Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys and apparently still Stanley’s favourite, has released his first disc in five years. Good News is a solid bluegrass collection highlighted by several exceptional songs. “The Less That I Drink” contains the classic country sentiment of “the more I don’t want her around.” The album’s singalong standout is “Alison’s Band,” a whimsical but sincere tribute to Ms. Krauss and her compatriots in Union Station; this one has ‘Song of the Year’ all over it.
The band is more than solid, and is comprised of bluegrass veterans. Bassist John Pennell (writer of Alison’s “Too Late to Cry” and “Every Time You Say Goodbye,” and a former member of Union Station) and dobroist Matt DeSpain each contribute an original, and reveal themselves as expert on their instruments. Danny Barnes (formerly of Pine Mountain Railroad, not of the Bad Livers) is as fine a bluegrass mandolinist as one needs to hear, and Wayne Fields has played with The Boys from Indiana and the New South; he is an excellent banjo player, and his talents are all over this brilliant little disc.
This is a rich bluegrass album, one whose treasures not only glitters on first listen but increase in integrity and value the more time one spends with it. Sizemore’s voice needs to be heard. It is smooth and warm, note perfect throughout.