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I’M WITH HER —IN THE DARK (Rounder Records)

I’m With Her is a trio made up of multi-instrumentalist Sara Jarosz (mandolin,banjo), Sara Watkins (one of the founding members of Nickel Creek  plays ukulele and fiddle) and Aoife O’Donovan (a founder member of Crooked Still performs piano and synthesiser). The girls combine superbly as seamless harmony vocals join the lead, that’s shared (as are the songwriting credits apart from Gillian Welch’s “Hundred Miles”) on this much anticipate project from the girls.Recorded at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios in Bath (UK) they share production duties with Ethan Johns and recorded the bulk of the record live.  

All as stated have successful careers going elsewhere; and undoubtedly proved themselves. In The Dark is more low key and artistically driven than anticipated; opening track “See You Around” sets the tempo, and with it followed by the mandolin and fiddle etched harmony vocal loaded “Game To Lose” the mood becomes darker still. As the music gets down and dirty so to speak. 

“Ain’t That Fine” holds strong throughout as the girls keep it tight and gritty, plus with it possessing dobro there is a freer feel to the music (pure Americana as folk, country, bluegrass etc are utilised). Next up you have the spare delicate and wistful “Pangaea”, plus pleasing instrumental “Waitsfield".  

While I wasn’t totally sure what to expect I did expect a few more fireworks! “I-89” threatens to lift the tempo and place a little more urgency into the record, but sadly it is more of the same. Nice though the harmonies are there is a need for one of them to stand up and deliver lead vocals to make up the listener prick up their ears, same could be said for wistful ballad “Ryland (Under The Appletree)”. But all is not lost.  For they do serve up a genuine treat on rustic steeped, banjo led “Overland”, and with “Crescent City” offering a stronger emotional feel much good is present. It might have taken a little while but the girls finally got to open up and entertain. So much so i can't wait to hear them perform live, and possibly another record! 

As for Welch’s “Hundred Miles”(and yet to be covered) the track opens a cappella fashion as the girls’ breathy tones speak of how it is a hundred miles to get back to you and hundred years and, maybe two. Dashed with organ, fiddle and banjo the wistful affair is loaded in grace, and rare beauty as they are found at their best in more ways than one.  

            Maurice Hope 

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March 2018

Mary Gauthier
95 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
Ed Romanoff
89 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
Dean Owens
43 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
Marlon Williams
41 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans
Rod Picott
39 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
Vivian Leva
39 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
H.C McEntire
38 pts.
Merge Records
34 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
Alela Diane
32 pts.
Allpoints Believe
Ben Miller Band
32 pts.
Choke Cherry Tree
New West Records
The Lynnes
32 pts.
Heartbreak Song For The Radio
Adam James Sorensen
30 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
John Oates
27 pts.
Thirthy Tigers
Cameron Blake
26 pts.
Fear Not
Continental Song City/CRS
John Gorka
26 pts.
True In Time
Red House
I'm With Her
25 pts.
See You Around
Rounder Records
The Reverend Shawn Amos
22 pts.
Breaks it Down
Put Together Music
Beth Wimmer
21 pts.
Chris Smither
21 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
Dayna Kurtz
21 pts.
Here, Vol 2
Kismet Records
Joan Baez
20 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
Kacy & Clayton
20 pts.
The Siren’s Song
New West Records
Caleb Caudle
19 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
Ad Vanderveen
18 pts.
Denver Nevada
Ben Reel
18 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
Bruno Deneckere

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