Bluegrass music with the usual dash and lots more —that is what you get with this album. For not only do we have the multi-talented David Williams who, apart from playing folk, bluegrass is a children’s author, and through his life-time love of the guitarist Django Reinhardt written a new musical / play about the jazz guitarist we also have as a bonus the delightful lead vocals of Kristina Murray. Who in turn conjures a little of the style of fellow bluegrass artiste Laurie Lewis, and like Lewis she crosses the folk country and bluegrass boundary in a seamless fashion.
With the vocal and acoustic guitar duties split between Murray and Williams (what a fine touch he has on guitar) with Katie Glassman (fiddle), Chris Elliott (banjo), Jordan Ramsey (mandolin) and Duane Webster (bass) in support the music is fresh and pure, and with a running time of over an hour the listener is well rewarded.
Other than Murray and a comparison to Laurie Lewis —the music of the Dry Branch Fire Squad comes to mind on many songs. The clever, and jaunty ‘Half Bad’ that speaks of being Jimmie Rodgers’ ‘lonesome’, Hank Williams ‘sad’ and Patsy Cline ‘kinda crazy’ could just as easily come from their catalogue. Staying on the subject of impressive tunes, the wonderful, shared vocal effort ‘Colorado’ that speaks of Murray’s adopted home it strikes a lonesome and at the same time descriptive chord of the rocky state.
Murray is given greater scope to shine early on. Which she most certainly does on the mid-tempo, free roaming lead off ballad ‘Annie Oakley’ that is soon followed by the melodic ‘You Gonna Lose Her’ and the racing banjo, bass and fiddle straight ahead bluegrass ‘Where Do Angels get Their Wings? You also have the beautiful, fiddle, mandolin and bass drenched swing (shades of Reinhardt?) delight ‘Cheyenne’ and that is not to forget the shared ‘Crazy Kind’ and ‘Paul’s Song’.
With space and tracks fast running out, Murray shows up well on the plaintive ‘Kitchen Table’ while Williams clocks in with arguably his best performance via ‘Heavenly Road’ and with banjo, mandolin and Murray tucked in alongside him ‘Redheaded Stranger’ creates an interesting sound. A bluesy sound you could imagine David Olney coming up with, and there is praise for you (David and co). To close, and fittingly so it is the beautiful tones of Kristina that lends a rare quality few are able to match on the story-ballad ‘Floodwater’ —that like all the other fine cuts was written by Dave!
What a find it was when I discovered the music of both and you too will no doubt feel that way once you have sampled just one song by the wonderful ensemble.