O’Connor Band with Mark O’Connor- Coming Home review   Leave a comment


It has been a busy summer- I’ve written quite a few reviews, and done more listening than I likely should have, but I’ve done even more reading: as a result, projects around the home didn’t get accomplished. Neither did writing. (I had planned on working on my short stories/novella this summer. Hmmm…didn’t happen.)

With all the music coming my way, I haven’t found the time/energy to sit down and write about enough of it. Lazy, perhaps- I do normally try to write about 75% of what gets sent to me. (Thanks, PR folks.) I fell short this summer, so today I make the attempt to write that wrong. I’ve also been working at refining my writing, trying to write tighter; working without constraints (or an editor) I’m sometimes not as focused on ‘how’ I am writing. This weekend I decided to concentrate on the quality of my writing, taking time to be more concise in my expression.

Here we go: several reviews of roots music released over these summer months. Hopefully, something leads you to further investigation.

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O’Connor Band with Mark O’Connor Coming Home Rounder Records

One of the new acts gaining extended coverage this summer has been Mark O’Connor’ foray into leading a family band. O’Connor has long been one of the most recognizable fiddle voices in country and roots music, releasing a string of albums under his own name while guesting on countless recordings. In the O’Connor Band he is joined by his son Forrest (mandolin) and their partners Maggie (vocals and fiddle, and who has a little Alison Krauss in her voice) and Kate Lee (vocals and fiddle.) With three fiddle/violin players in the band, one isn’t surprised at the prominence the instrument has in this neo-bluegrass/Americana band’s repertoire. My advance copy of the album came with no credit notes, but the album appears to be a mix of original (“Coming Home,” a Forrest O’Connor composition is a highlight) and familiar material. Of the later, a stirring rendition of “Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man” is a highlight, as is a welcome interpretation of “Jerusalem Ridge,” considered by some to be Bill Monroe’s finest composition. The album is enjoyable if a little staid for my tastes- more MOR than the fiery sounds that fuel my soul. No doubt, expertly played and acutely produced, it features a few too many numbers a bit too smooth for me to grasp onto. Key cuts: already mentioned as well as “Blacktop Boy” and “Always Do.”

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