Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands- Live   Leave a comment

Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands


Spruce & Maple


When performed at its highest level, bluegrass music is emotional, evocative, and spot-on in its precision. Such is the recent live album from California-based Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands.


While some of the splices are apparent to those preferring unedited concert recordings, the strength and breadth of the music contained within the eighty-minute set more than compensates for minor blemishes.


Lewis is revealed as a sensitive, intuitive fiddler, one who is more interested in supportive interplay with band mates than showboating flashes of speedy sawing. Blend her dexterity within a powerhouse five-piece bluegrass lineup, and one has a winning combination.


This album provides a comprehensive overview of the band’s repertoire. There are a few barn-storming bluegrass numbers, including Tall Pines, Curly-Headed Woman, and Diamond Joe, as well as several introspective songs such as The Rope, Val’s Cabin, and the ecological lament The Wood Thrush’s Song. A Lewis standard, and one of the greatest bluegrass songs of the past two decades- Who Will Watch the Home Place?­­– is also included.


Shaver’s Live Forever as sung by guitarist Scott Huffman is a highlight, while O My Malissa/How Old Are You? is not only one of the most meaningful bluegrass songs written in the past few years, it features as identifiable guitar intro as exists within the genre.


Featuring nimble-fingered instrumentation, passionate lead vocals, and gripping vocal trio and quartet numbers, the audio on this album is best experienced on quality stereo equipment. I found it a little flat on my portable machine and even in the car, but the sounds truly ‘came to life’ once I played it on the home system. Unexpectedly, I was transported to the Pacific Northwest halls in which Live was recorded last spring.


With Live, Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands confirm what astute bluegrass listeners have known for years: few bands present as complete a vision of bluegrass as this band of west coast professionals.


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