Simple statement: I really like this album. It caught me totally by surprise. There are 13 tracks, each of which draws you back to listen again to their simplicity and melody. Each little gem seems to be hand picked and polished to perfection. The instrumentation supports and lifts the songs from their already high vocal standard to a place that just snuggles in your ear and dishes out crystal clear lyrics in a style seldom heard these days.
Eight of the thirteen songs are written by Kristen Grainger, who delivers most of the vocals, and the rest of the singing duties are shared equally by her partner Dan Wetzel and the other couple making up the Salem, Oregon based quartet, Dale and Suzanne Pearse Adkins.
All of the songs have a rhyming simplicity that would have done Harlan Howard proud and their strong storytelling nails your foot to the floor till each one lets you loose. They are true to bluegrass when needed but drift into old timey or swing or even a tinge of Celticy folk. It’s hard to pick out a winner from all of Kristen’s songs but The Poet and the Carpenter and Shiny Black Shoes for me really show her ability to blend words and suitable melody to suit the mood and style. But the the life-story in Be Here Now is a real lump in the throat masterpiece. The addition of Ruth Moody’s One Voice and Rattlin’ Bones from Shane Nicholson and Kasey Chambers shows just how easily Kristen’s songwriting sits with the best of the best.
The boys provide stunning flat-picked guitar and a host of appropriate mountainy stringed instruments that are slipped in almost unnoticed, yet tick the box every time. This is a band that I would pay to sit front row and still holler for more at the end. ‘Nuff Said.