Americana Highways

Americana Highways

Kristen Grainger & True North, Ghost Tattoo.

Folk meets bluegrass on this latest album from the Oregon-based Kristen Grainger and her band True North, which includes her husband Dan Wetzel (guitar, vocals, octave mandolin) plus Martin Stevens (mandolin, fiddle) and Josh Adkins (acoustic bass).

The musicianship is excellent as is Grainger’s vocal work, but the album’s greatest strength may be the material. The program includes four covers, among them Peter Rowan’s “L.A. Cowboy” and “Mississippi,” which Brandi Carlile cowrote; one song by Grainger and Wetzel; and seven numbers credited solely to Grainger.

The best of that latter group include “Ghost of Abuelito,” the first-person tale of a seven-year-old detained on the U.S./Mexico border; “She Flies with Her Own Wings,” which according to a press release was inspired by Grainger’s experiences as communications director for Oregon governor Kate Brown; and the infectious “Keep the River on Your Right,” which is good enough to be mistaken for the old classic that it may well become.

June 22, 2020

Jeff Burger

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