The Boston-based band Chasing Blue hits quickly and decisively on their debut recording of ten original songs. “Come To Me,” the opener, is a winning combination of medium-tempo bluegrass, Americana, and pop, driven along by drums, made intriguing by slippery and swooping vocals from Suzanne Oleson and, ultimately, anchored by a fine hook-laden chorus. The second track doesn’t fare as well. A nice intro is followed by a rather pedestrian set of lyrics about home, a topic needing more creativity to be viable. The next track, a murder ballad, starts to lean that same way, but is rescued by a lively fiddle dance rhythm, and enough contemporary feel to make it go.
The recording then hits a string of interesting material more in keeping with the band’s vision. “Two Broken Wings,” mournful and dreamlike, flows nicely and is made more interesting by the long, descending melody line. “Queen City Feel,” funky and percussive, pairs well with the rockabilly drive of “Red Wine Rock And Roll” and takes the band decidedly outside the bluegrass sphere. Closing the record are the instrumental “Mysty Valley” and the drifting procrastination song “Let’s Start Tomorrow,” the latter of which is one of the highlight tracks.
What all this reveals is a very talented band acknowledging their roots while forging an identity and audience that will further strengthen with future recordings. In addition to mandolinist Oleson are Michael Reese on guitar, vocals, and drums, Alex Muri on vocals and bass, and Maggie McKay on banjo. Trent Freeman guests on fiddle. The instrumental work, particularly the guitar and fiddle work is very good. Vocally, Oleson dominates and shines, singing most of the leads. She seems to delight in bending and slurring words into drones, making you listen closely to get the meaning, but she does it to fine effect. Whichever male lead sings “Red Wine Rock And Roll” also gives a good performance. (Chasing Blue, 10 Gartland St., Boston MA 02130, www.chasingblueband.com.)BW