(Votive, 2001)

This is a well-produced and performed CD featuring all new music by Chris Emerson and Ty Bennett.

"Watcha Gonna Say" is a very good upbeat track in the bluegrass idiom that features some lyrics in French to good effect. Gospel is represented by a real foot-tapping story in "Firemen." The banjo playing here is of particular note, as is the excellent short, unaccompanied snatches of lyric. This is prayer set to music that even an atheist could not ignore.

"Little Jasper" is a story song that intrigued me. It starts as a story set in Georgia at the time of the Civil War but I was left wondering about the lines in the final verse -- "That no more southern children cry -- driven from their homes. That the struggles of the 60s end the troubles down in Dixie." I hear as a modern plea and hope that I am not misinterpreting the writer. Of the instrumental tracks I liked "Crooked Creek Road" best, with its lovely slightly driving beat and excellent marriage of instruments.

My top song has to be "Things I've Got To Pay" with that fabulous intro music on banjo and fiddle. I loved the witty lyrics on lost love. "I laid you on a bed of roses but you must have got a thorn in your side" and "Valentines Day was a lot more like Halloween" say more about love gone wrong than a million of our modern pop songs and using humour make it all the more real.

This leads into another classic (or it will be one) bluegrass instrumental in "Wilkes County Breakdown." I can feel the sun and dust as I sit in a wind- and rainswept Ireland just listening to this track at top volume. Track 13 is not listed but showed up on my player and guess what -- it is a full track of silence -- a joke or a mistake?

As you may have guessed I loved this album and as always the lyric sheet helped. I look forward to more.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 19 April 2002

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