John Reischman & the Jaybirds,
John Reischman & the Jaybirds
(Corvus/Copper Creek, 2001)

God be with the days when, if you picked up a record, you had a fair idea from the genre that it originated in a particular part of the world. Thankfully, such is no longer true. Some types of globalisation are good and beneficial. This is particularly true in music.

That long polemic was inspired by this CD and the discovery of fantastic bluegrass playing and composing that emanates from the Pacific Northwest. From the self-penned opener "Salt Spring" to the energetic closing rendition of the traditional "Hog Eye," the Jaybirds are captivating.

The CD combines a very nice mix of instrumental and vocal works. "My Home Far Away" is typical of the songs featured here. It is a beautifully written descriptive song that will tug at the heartstrings. From sad lyrical beauty they dump you straight off into an toe-tapping piece called "Don't Wake me Up." If this were playing you would not get to sleep to begin with.

I particularly loved "Come With Me," a new song written by Susan Crow. This is a moving story about long-term loving. "Katy Dear" and "Medicine Springs" are traditional and new, respectively, but both deal with a staple of bluegrass: love and murder. These are beautiful songs and I truly enjoyed both, but I often get to wonder if anyone in the bluegrass world gets to marry their sweetheart without blood being spilled? Don't get me wrong, I think the songs are great, and they manage to avoid that awful maudlin whine so common in "bad country" and particularly "Irish country" songs.

"Bravest Cowboy" brings us a song history of the Old West. Perhaps he could hook up with the "Prairie Girl," which is a lovely "feel good" tune with some great "picking." Another new song on this album is "Blossoms on the Almond Tree." Even the very title sounds beautiful and the lyrics and melody bear this out.

This is a CD that bluegrass fans may not be aware of but it is not just for fans of that genre. These tracks will delight any discerning listener and brighten any life.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 7 June 2002

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