Flyinshoes Review

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www.nu-blu.com

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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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
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
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.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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