july 2008

jaJohn Anderson: Deeply Countrified
For those who may have missed John Anderson the first time around, and for those who may need to be reminded of what all the fuss was about, five worthy Collectors’ Choice reissues reclaim an important body of work that spoke eloquently and all at once to country’s past, present and future, and has lost none of its compelling features over time.

grascalThe Grascals: Keep On Walkin’
Those who couldn’t get enough of the Grascals’ first two albums are hereby advised that they ain’t heard nothin’ yet. Keep On Walkin’ is the work of master musicians whose communication skills—vocally and instrumentally, that is—are second to none in or out of the bluegrass world.

wheelsDan Tyminski: Wheels by Billy Altman
As bluegrass fans know, singer/guitarist Dan Tyminski has spent better than a dozen years riding shotgun for Alison Krauss & Union Station. And while no one would argue that the Lonesome River Band alumnus hasn't had a significantly raised profile because of it—after all, not everyone gets to lip-sync for George Clooney—the release of Wheels should help keep anyone inclined to take him for granted good and honest. That's the way to describe this album, too: good and honest.

crookedCrooked Still: Still Crooked by Derk Richardson
First Alison Krauss, then Nickel Creek, and more recently Crooked Still have made the world not only safe but apparently eager as well, for soft-focus bluegrass and string band music. In the new quintet incarnation of Crooked Still that recorded the group’s third CD, banjo player Gregory Liszt, double bassist Corey DiMario, and new members Tristan Clarridge (cello, replacing founding member Rushad Eggleston) and Brittany Haas (five-string fiddle) provide a warm, sometimes earthy, sometimes vaporous soundscape for the unspeakably lovely and airy voice of Aoife O'Donovan.

Sisters Morales: Talking To the River
On their first album since 2002’s moving Para Gloria, the lyrically engrossing and gloriously musical Talking To the River, Lisa and Roberta Morales offer a dim view of the price of love, song after song detailing bruised feelings stemming from deceit and betrayal, dreams gone sour, and appeals to a higher power for guidance, salvation or redemption. One senses they wish to be alone.

stringThe Infamous Stringdusters: The Infamous Stringdusters
The Infamous Stringdusters is another impressive showcase for the group’s arranging, vocal artistry and sure hand with strong original and distinctive cover songs.


buffaloDonna the Buffalo: Silverlined
Marking its 20th year together, Donna the Buffalo delivers the best of its seven fine albums in Silverlined. Never forsaking its mountain music roots, the quintet brazenly incorporates textures and rhythms from a multiplicity of sources to create a bountiful, captivating landscape that enhances the vibrancy of the baker’s dozen of original songs penned by the redoubtable Tara Nevins (six are hers) and vocalist-guitarist Jeb Puryear.

motherThe Mother Truckers: Let’s All Go To Bed
From a rambunctious start to a temperate ending, the Mother TruckersLet’s All Go To Bed is a work of unflagging energy, unbridled soul and unalloyed conviction. What’s the old expression? It’s a mother? Exactly.


emiitDrew Emmitt: The Long Road
Wanderlust afflicts Leftover Salmon lead singer/mandolinist Drew Emmitt on his exemplary third solo outing, as a number of songs deal directly with a journey, within and without, and sometimes both at once.


siskJunior Sisk & Ramblers Choice: Blue Side of the Blue Ridge
Junior Sisk’s pinched, nasally tenor is one of bluegrass music’s most emotive, and identifiable, instruments, and it’s rarely been as affecting as it is here, in serving the reconstituted Ramblers Choice on the group’s return to the active list following a 10-year absence, Blue Side of the Blue Ridge.

beckyBecky Schlegel: For All The World to See
A favorite of A Prairie Home Companion and RFD-TV’s Midwest Country Theater, South Dakota native Becky Schlegel has delivered a subdued, thoughtful gem of a third album, all but one of its 11 songs being Schlegel originals, situated in a down-home soundscape shaped by banjo, mandolin, steel guitar, dobro, piano, acoustic bass, acoustic and electric guitars and unobtrusive drums.

looseThe Loose Acoustic Trio: Sorrow Be Gone
The Loose Acoustic Trio derives so much enjoyment from its blend of Cajun, folk, jug band and old-timey music that a listener could be forgiven for feeling blindsided by Sorrow Be Gone’s topicality.

willieWillie Nelson: Stardust: Legacy Edition
Released as part of the label's ongoing celebration of Willie's 75th birthday year, Stardust: Legacy Edition, coming on the heels of the essential four-CD box set, One Hell of a Ride, underscores yet again the depth of a remarkable, landscape altering body of work. It makes a fellow proud to be alive to enjoy it all.

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