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SUMMER BROOKE AND THE MOUNTAIN FAITH BAND —SMALL TOWN LIFE (Travianna Records)

http://www.summerbrookemusic.com

 

Sweet-voiced, modern-day bluegrass / country singer, songwriter and fiddle player too, Summer Brooke shows off her talent (although they brought in Tim Crouch to play fiddle on this occasion) on her latest album with her band. The Mountain Faith Band is a fine set of players; made up of Cory Platt (mandolin, vocals), Nick Dauphinais (guitar, vocals) and her brother, Brayden McMahan (banjo, vocals) Sylva, North Carolina native Summer Brooke McMahan and the band have been performing since 2000. Yet it wasn’t till they competed on NBC’s America’s Got Talent in 2015 their fortunes took a sudden upturn. Since which time the quartet have appeared on the Grand Ole Opry more than once and, shared the stage with Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn and Charlie Daniels. In 2016 were named The Atlanta Braves Band of The Year, and they have since played at numerous sporting events.

 

The progressive bluegrass band have others additional to Crouch in the form of Aaron Ramsey (bass), John Gardner (drums), Seth Taylor (electric guitar), Josh Schilling (piano) and Jet Willis (whistle on Celtic tune “God’s Blessing”) all drop by. Otherwise Brooke and The Mountain Faith Band handle the duties, and with them merging the sounds of New Grass with a hint of swing on the busy “Lead Me On”, and with a bundle of super smart picking instrumental “Jawbone Hill” complement title cut “Small Town Life” (Roger Browning, Robert Ricotta) as Brooke sings how it is back home.

 

On rewinding to the albums’ opening segment of tunes the music sounds are very much in the vein one would expect from an Alison Kruass & Union Station, Punch Brothers influenced ensemble. Listening to the record you might think bluegrass and country music has never been closer. I hope real bluegrass music isn’t going to be entirely swallowed up by the Nashville country conglomerate.

 

Awash in happy rhythms and grooves “Perfect Day” has a summery feel to it; and with it supported by the likewise, excellent “Umbrella”, “Lazy River” and with a little more imagination (more whistle) “Queen’s Anne’s Revenge” skips merrily through the Appalachian foothills. Though a little more edge to their work wouldn't come amiss Brooke and co have a pleasant new album on offer.  

 

                                                Maurice Hope    

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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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