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With their fifth CD, The Bankesters now shift to Compass Records and bring their bright, fresh sound, fine vocals, and ever-advancing instrumental chops. Most importantly, they and producer Alison Brown have corrected the minor flaws of their previous release. That self-titled CD had good overall material, including the wonderful “Sure As The Sun,” but was stymied by the lack of any track above a slow-end medium tempo. This current release equals the last in overall quality of material (five from Lisa Shaffer, the majority of the balance from such contemporary songwriters as Jon Weisberger and Mark Brinkman), but also makes sure to throw in some uptempo tunes, giving the recording a lift and some variety.
They’re still rightly tossing the roles back and forth, trading off instruments and letting each member have her or his vocal representation. Emily takes the lead on four, impressing most on “Cups (When I’m Gone)” and “Found” (an emotional Melissa and Kyle Triplett original on coming back to the fold). Melissa gets three leads and is at her best on “Love Has Wheels” and on her other original contribution “Time And Love.” Their mother, Doreen, wonderfully handles the leads on the old-time, clawhammer-styled “Reluctant Daughter” and the bluesy spiritual by Becky Buller, “Rise Up.” Alyssa gives an appropriately raspy and anguished lead to “Love Don’t Give Up On Me Now.”
While there is no one song that quite matches “Sure As The Sun,” the Bankesters don’t miss by much with the driving and catchy “Love Has Wheels” (featuring guitarist Josh Williams) or with the rhythmically-dense remake of the reconfigured A.P. Carter tune “Cups (When I’m Gone),” featuring mandolinist Sarah Hull and drummer Kenny Malone. Those make for a fine one-two opening and, along with “Found,” “Storms,” and the gospel tunes “Reluctant Daughter” and “Rise Up,” contribute to what is a very good, highly entertaining album. (Compass Records, 916 19th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212, www.compassrecords.com.)BW