Chris Cairns- Hello Blue   Leave a comment

Chris Cairns

Hello Blue

FireHeart Records


Chris Cairns has been a mainstay on the California bluegrass scene for many years. Following several albums with Wild Sage, Cairns founded FireHeart Records in 2003, the same year he released his solo debut. Runaway Train was well-reviewed and garnered considerable bluegrass airplay. Hello Blue will find favor with those who enjoyed Cairns’ previous efforts, and should broaden his fan base.


Cairns’ approach to progressive bluegrass is accessible; his music is immediately recognizable as bluegrass while pushing some edges, stylistically if not lyrically. The title cut of this new disc is illustrative of this point. The lyrics are typical of bluegrass love-lost songs, which isn’t to take anything away from them. The instrumentation is where the true attraction lays. From a spirited Gabe Witcher fiddle kick-off, to the lopping rhythm established by bassist Tom Lee and mandolinist Tom Corbett, the song possesses a welcome brightness often missing in contemporary bluegrass.


“Hold Me My Darlin’” kicks off the album with an up-beat, radio-friendly bluegrass tune. This tune’s momentum is maintained through the disc’s thirty-nine minutes. “Cannonball Run” and “Another Rainy Day,” although very different from each other, individually rival songs on the bluegrass charts. “One Lonely Day” slides straight into honky-tonk country territory with John McFee’s pedal steel wail and Cairns’ ‘tear in my beer’ vocal approach.


While several originals provide the disc with its soul, Cairns also reaches to his influences for inspiration. Earl Scruggs’ “Groundspeed” is enlivened with originality and passion, while Larry Cordle’s and Ronald Scaife’s “Alabama Clay” appears to benefit as much from the Seldom Scene’s take as Garth Brooks’. “Mississippi Sawyer” is taken for a restrained ride, and Carter Stanley’s “Baby Girl” bounces along.


The most fun is contained in Cairns’ witty banjo reworking of the Inspector Gadget theme, “Go Go Gadget Boogie;” this instantly recognizable tune features Joe Craven and David West on mandolin and guitar.


Hello Blue is a welcome addition to the bluegrass landscape.


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