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In a classic tale of taking a lot of time and work to become an overnight success, North Carolina's Nu-Blu seem to be making waves in the American bluegrass scene with this long-nurtured album of material. Core members Daniel and Carolyn Routh are joined by banjo player Levi Austin, fiddler Greg Luck and mandolin player Kendall Gales. All of them are exemplary players, solidly in the bluegrass tradition and with Carolyn's clear, sweet voice they frequently sound like Allison Krauss at her most traditional.

There's just one instrumental amongst the dozen tracks - a version of Red Haired Boy - and the eleven songs come from a range of sources reflecting a desire to move forward within the genre. Bluegrass writer Mark Brinkman contributes the standout song for my money. 'Lonesome Mountain' is a nice combination of a great bluegrass tune and a lyric that is partly myth-making, yet at the same time rooted in real lives. Four songs come from the band members themselves and these are very much in the mould of Allison Krauss's own songwriting; 'Spin On A Red Brick Floor', from Nanci Griffith and Juice Newton's 'River of Love' are amongst the other songs covered and I guess this reflects the range of influences these guys have in making their own music. In other words, I don't expect they do a bluegrass version of Guns'n'Roses for an encore.

They've got a nice balance to their sound and Levi Austin's baritone voice adds some weight when he harmonises with Daniel and Carolyn. In best bluegrass tradition, every instrument gets a chance to shine and I particularly like it when Daniel's picking away at the lower strings on his guitar, it seems to give a bit of a welly to the sound. I'm curious about the fiddle sound. It sounds to me like old style mountain playing and frequently I think he's playing two strings together; I'm not sure if this is common in bluegrass bands but it's the thing that gives Nu-Blu a sound of their own to my ears. I'm probably completely wrong on that one so if anyone cares to enlighten me... Overall, they drive along really nicely - precise and fast - and any sort of bluegrass fan will welcome these new kids on the block.
John Davy


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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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