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MARK LAVENGOOD —WE’VE COME ALONG (EarthWork Music)

 

www.marklavengpood.com

 

We’ve Come Along is Mark “Huggy Bear” Lavengood’s third solo album, and the Dobro playing multi-instrumentalist (guitar, dobro, mule weissenborn, congas, bongos, claves, tom tom) singer-songwriter with the help of his band Bluegrass Bonanza cut it up. Apart from playing with his band, Lavengood will be known to many for his part played in Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys. 

 

Recorded in Detroit, Michigan Lavengood and the boys; Kyle Rhodes (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Jason Dennie (vocals, mandolin, guitar), Spencer Cain (upright bass) and Keith Billik (banjo) cover much ground as they take bluegrass into new areas without any major detours. While Jerry Douglas is regarded, and has been for decades as the world’s greatest exponent of the Dobro there’s a number of wonderful exponents out there, and in Lavengood you have one of the finest. His deft touches and melodious rolls are augmented by occasions when he takes the bulls by the horns to go for broke.

 

The album opens with a long, well worked introduction to the band as each player is allowed space to shine on the seven  minute title-track “We've Come Along” (something Boone Creek might have done?), and it is from there their sound takes shape. With a terrific hotly picked version of country classic “Ol’ Slew Foot” (Howard Crocket, James Webb), and Lavengood’s prowess on Dobro shown in all its majesty on “Interlude For L.A” and “Mule Kick” to go with his amazing picking on the band’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” the benchmark is set. They make it sound like it was written with genre in mind, first class. One tune most definitely penned for the music they perform is Arthur Smith’s “Bound To Ride”, on which you have a heap of fired-up banjo, upright bass, Dobro and acoustic guitar to go with rhythmic mandolin, tight harmony vocals and lead from the excellent Rhodes. It is followed by arguably Lavengood’s finest playing as he tenders a reprise version of “Interlude For L.A” (once again performing solo only this time he plays his Lazy River Guitars Weissenborn style slide guitar instead of his Scheerhorn R body square neck resophonic guitar), and with his biggest and most meaningful song that's kept to last “America”. This as he speaks of his love of his homeland, and the complex history of the social class, and with his easy but nevertheless strong vocal he delivers a song he can be truly proud of.

 

It leaves us with his own “Three Day Blow”, and Russ Brakefield’s “Vulpes Vulpes”, both have an innovative roving feel; akin to music of the likes of Sam Bush and John Cowan of New Grass Revival as boundaries are stretched and new fences built. 

 

                                                      Maurice Hope    

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
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12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
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BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
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41 pts.
Mosey
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CVL
 
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41 pts.
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17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
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18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
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38 pts.
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Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
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GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
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FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
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Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
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25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
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AL
 
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