Oh, how I love the bluegrass/ country sound of Jeff & Vida. With fine instrumental support given to the distinctive vocals of the multi-talented, Vida Wakeman and her partner Jeff Burke who plays mandolin and lends fine harmony vocal support (and sings some lead).
While she possesses a likeness to Rounder recording act Claire Lynch on the bluegrass cuts her approach to country music is reminiscent to 1970s act Mary Kay Place. Refreshing, bouncy and awash feel good qualities apart from a couple of less than essential tracks normal service is resumed without any loss in momentum as she darts along in joyful fashion on the Cajun country styled ‘Sugarcane Blues’. Loaded in fiddle (Justin Hoffenberg), banjo (Jake Schepps), mandolin, bass (Will Downes) and acoustic guitar (Greg Schochet) it races ahead in sterling fashion, and with Burke getting to sing lead ‘Little Sara’ it sees him
hit the boards running. Not to be outdone, Wakeman who though born in California was raised in Europe leads the line superbly on a thrill a second ‘Boxcar Blues (Hello Sunshine)’.
The dashing harmony driven ‘Heartache Train’ sees both acts at the top of their game amidst sterling fiddle, mandolin, banjo, bass and guitar entries, and with it the first track it whets the appetite of the listener in superb fashion. Country ode ‘Time Will Heal Your Wounds’ that closes the recording it too is a wonderful effort and has a ‘vintage’ tradition feel to it, and if nothing else it underlines the quality of their songwriting. Since they wrote all the songs with Wakeman in particular taking a leading role.
I have no hesitation in recommending the duo, and a band that really known how to pick; if you like the music of Valerie Smith and the above noted Lynch and the like then you shall be overjoyed on hearing the music of Vida and Jeff. Burke, apart from time living with Wakeman in New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina blew in he has also been a resident of the suburbs of New Jersey, New York and now Nashville where the couple reside and have already made their mark.
To add to the mix, the album was recorded in Colorado using local musicians of whom many will undoubtedly figure on other artists of the ilk’s recordings in the near future.