Mountain Roads Recordings
For their fourth release, the Snyder Family Band moves almost completely out of the realm of recording covers or standards. Where their first release in 2008 was largely standards, as would be expected from a trio fronted by two very young musicians, each successive recording has included fewer and fewer. Building Bridges contains just one.
That ever-emerging burst of creativity, coming as guitarist/vocalist Zeb and fiddler/vocalist Samantha have put a few years behind them and gained confidence and a very high level of music technique and understanding, has been, with two exceptions, channeled in two directions. One direction is toward gospel originals, all four of which come from Samantha. Gospel tunes are personal statements, so ranking them is risky. And yet, her “Open Up This Heart Of Mine” rises noticeably above the others. The remaining three, particularly the 3/4 time “Kneel Down And Pray,” get their point across, but “Open” has a brightness and vivacity that is undeniable.
The other direction is toward instrumentals, of which there are six. From Zeb comes “Reed’s Overture,” a piece that opens with classical guitar before shifting to a fingerpicked, rockabilly-tinged ode to Jerry Reed. The shift is a bit abrupt, but the two sections are tuneful and played with authority and verve. That’s followed by a slide-guitar tune “Blue Bottle Blues” and by the light and airy fingerpicked jazz of “Folkston,” both quite good. He then closes out on “Blockade Runner,” an uptempo tune that is weaker melodically than the others, but makes up for it with energy and which showcases his exceptional flatpicking technique. Samantha answers with “Top Hat,” which makes good use of long, swooping notes over a jazzy vamp, and with “Trim Castle,” an Irish-sounding piece that dances along in high style.
It has probably been written in many reviews what fine musicians Zeb and Samantha (and their bass-playing father, Bud) are. This recording underscores that point. (Mountain Road Recordings, 3192 Hwy. 421, Bristol, TN 37620, www.mountainroadsrecordings.com.)BW