JIMMY BOWEN AND SANTA FE, THE SKY IS WEEPING

JIMMY BOWEN AND SANTA FE
THE SKY IS WEEPING

Santa Fe Records
SF-6889

Jimmy Bowen’s fifth record (fourth bluegrass) with his band Santa Fe offers a near textbook example of diverse song selection. There’s a little bit of everything (with the exception of an instrumental piece) drawing from sources old and new, and offering a good variety of tempos and mood. With “Early Morning Rain,” he tips his hat to his old employer, the Country Gentlemen, then acknowledges the similarity of his vocals with those of the Osborne Brothers with a relatively unchanged cover of “Makin’ Plans.” His recast version of “Darlin’ Corey,” on which he gives a couple of interesting tweaks to the melody, rounds out the standards. To those, he adds the semi-standards “Seven Bridges Road” and “I Know I Haven’t Got The Right To Love You,” a couple of tunes from the rock genre, and five new or recently-written bluegrass numbers, the best of which are the title cut and Harley Allen’s “Wildwood Flower Blues.”

Largely, the format works. “Georgia Bound” is sort of predictable, and “Seven Bridges Road” struggles a bit vocally, but all the rest make for solidly-backed, good listening, punctuated here and there by some very good tracks. Bowen’s high tenor lead fits well with the material, particularly when the tune has a strong melodic line, as many of the tunes here do. He is perhaps at his best on the three standards and “I Know I Haven’t Got The Right To Love You.” The continuous harmony on the title cut is also of note.  The surprises, however, are the two rock tunes “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” once covered by the Eagles, and “Lady,” a hit of sorts for the Little River Band. Both of them translate well to the bluegrass form almost to the point that you might think they were intended to be done that way. (B. M. M. P., 1225 Brentwood Highlands Dr., Nashville TN 37211,  www.jimmybowen.com.)BW

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