Dix Bruce is no stranger to guitarists and mandolinists. Known as a prolific writer/producer of literally dozens of instructional books, CDs, and DVDs, most of his performing outlet in recent years has been as the duo partner with guitarist Jim Nunally. But, here the San Francisco Bay area string master has found a new teammate in Julie Cline, a fine singer who’s making a relatively new immersion into recording after concentrating on her main career as a ceramic artist.
The result is a friendly and unpretentious tour through traditional American music. With a strong emphasis on old-time and classic country standards, such as “Pretty Polly,” “I Am A Pilgrim,” “Making Believe,” and “Little Birdie,” the emphasis shifts to the seamless interplay between their voices. As they swap leads and harmonies through thirteen songs and two instrumentals, the simple pleasure of two voices, mandolin, and guitar is given new life.
It’s no secret that Bruce is a fine flatpicker and crosspicker, but it’s worth mentioning that Cline is as comfortable with a mandolin in her hands as she is with a potter’s wheel. Another bonus to this album is a handful of Dix Bruce originals interspersed among the classics. Songs like “Darling, Will You Ever Think Of Me,” “I Get Blue,” and the title track successfully evoke a timeless feel which adds some fresh blood to the recording.
Joined only by bassist Steve Hanson, Bruce and Cline have debuted with a CD that effectively fuses their respective talents. Look At It Rain is a spare and simple survey through musical Americana. (Musix, P.O. Box 231005, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523, www.musixnow.com.)HK