New Releases For 6-7-13


Bramblett - The Bright Spots

Genre: Rock, Singer-Songwriter, Country

Randall Bramblett's latest release, The Bright Spots, makes me happy and sad. I'm happy because Bramblett's muse is still very much with him. Sad, because the sound here is not as good as on his 2006 release, Thin Places. I don't mind a bit of edge on vocals, but the difference between rasp and razor is not subtle. Still, the songs here are superb. I especially like "Detox Bracelet."  

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 6



John Reischman - Walk Along John

Genre: Bluegrass, Mandolin

John Reischman's 1924 Gibson F-5 is among the finest sounding mandolins in the known universe. His playing is also legend - clean and melodically inventive but with a reverence for players and styles of the past. On the opening tune, "Itzbin Reel," McArthur Fellowship-winning mandolinist Chris Thile joins Reischman. Other blue-ribbon players on the album include Jim Nunally, Eli West, and Kenny Smith on guitars, and Mike Barnett, Trent Freeman, Greg Spatz, Bruce Molsky and Annie Staninec on fiddles. On Reischman's solo mandolin version of "Little Maggie" the reverb is a bit too prominent for my tastes, but the sound overall is very open and mellifluous.  

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 9, Sonically - 8


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Eric Brace & Peter Cooper - The Comeback Album

Genre: Roots, Country

Yes, the title of Eric Brace and Peter Cooper's latest, The Comeback Album, is tongue in cheek. In the words of Dan Hicks, "How can I miss you if you won't go away?" Brace and Cooper have been busy producing, writing, recording, and finding other ways to keep busy for a while now. Recent projects include a Grammy-nominated children's album, an album with pedal steel master Lloyd Green, and one with the late dobro great Mike Auldridge. On their latest Brace and Cooper enlist the likes of Mac Wiseman, Duane Eddy, and Marty Stuart to play together on Tom T. Hall's "I'm Mad." The results are rockin'.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8



The Boxcars - It's Just a Road

Genre: Bluegrass

IBMA's (International Bluegrass Music Association) 2012 Instrumental Group of the Year, The Boxcars', latest release leads off with a song sporting three-part vocal harmonies. Not too bad for a bunch of pickers. Lead by mandolin great Adam Steffey and Banjo monster Ron Stewart The Boxcars romp through a mixture of material from old songs by A.P. Carter to a brand new instrumental from Ron Stewart. The sound is natural with a mid-distance perspective that never gets in-between the listener and the music.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8


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Mike Scott - Home Sweet Home

Genre: Americana, Bluegrass

Home Sweet Home is a "project album" that was created as "an instrumental tribute to the civil war era of songs." Most, but not all the tunes selected date from the Civil War Era. "Soldier's Joy," and The Battle Hymn of the Republic" date from before the war, but "Ashokan Farwell" was written in the last half of the twentieth century. Players on the album include Adam Steffey and Mike Compton on mandolin, Tim Stafford and Bryan Sutton on guitar, Rob Ickes on dobro, and Aubrey Haynie on fiddle. As you would expect from this caliber of musician, who've each played most of these tunes perhaps thousands of times, every tune still sounds fresh. The sound is excellent, with well-preserved dynamics and timbral fidelity. 

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8



Ruth Moody - These Wilder Things

Genre: Folk, Singer-Songwriter

Ruth Moody's "day gig" is as one-third of the folk super-group, The Wailin Jennys. On her new solo album, she wrote all but one of ten songs, the sole exception being a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in The Dark." Fellow travelers on These Wilder Things include guest appearances by Mark Knopfler on guitar, Jerry Douglas on dobro, and Aoife O'Donovan on vocals. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by David Travers-Smith, These Wild Things sounds glorious.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 9



Ashleigh Flynn - A Million Stars

Genre: Folk, Singer-Songwriter

With accolades from the likes of veteran songwriters Nanci Griffith and Todd Snider, Ashleigh Flynn comes highly recommended. Her original songs draw equally from traditional Americana and folk, but Flynn put enough individualistic twists to make her music unique. The title tune, based on the child's picture used for the cover art, has a strong cinematic element to its narrative. Produced and engineered by Chris Funk and mastered by Jeff Stuart Saltzman, the sound is lush and full-figured.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8

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