These days, when acoustic music doesnít fit cleanly into a folk or bluegrass or old-time category, it tends to get designated as ďAmericana.Ē Itís as good a label as any, I guess, though it really doesnít tell you too much. In the case of Kristen Grainger and True North, the term suggests strong hints of bluegrass, except without the aggressive drive and the ostentatious virtuosity, and an element of country as well, though without the assertive twang (or any twang at all, really; these guys are from Oregon). What are front and center are Graingerís songwriting, which is graceful and intelligent, and her singing, which is beautiful but plainspoken and becomes heartstopping when combined in harmony with that of guitarist Dan Wetzel. This is a quiet gem of an album.
Pick of the Month: Folk/Country