EAST OF MONROE

EAST-OF-MONROEEAST OF MONROE
BY THE RIVER’S EDGE

Pennywill Music
PM 1001

This is a mellow affair; three songwriters singing their own songs and some choice selections from others, dressed in great harmonies and sublime picking, making this a rich listening experience. There are eight musicians on this project. Gary Alan Ferguson sings and plays mandolin and guitar. Jackie Frost sings and plays guitar, Lisa Kay Howard sings and plays mandolin. Wally Hughes sings and adds fiddle, while Dave Giegerich plays resonator guitar. Terry Witten plays banjo and sings, Billy Budd plays bass. Emily Timberlake sings and contributed some of the tunes.

The tempo here is on the mellow side, with introspective songs about love lost and things gone astray. Ferguson wrote half of the songs and they feature his lead vocals. They have a folk-influenced pop feel. Timberlake wrote and sings three of the songs. There are tunes from Patty Griffith, (“When It Don’t Come Easy”), Richard Ward (“A New Song”), and Charlie Shavers and Sid Robin (“Undecided”), all sung by Jackie Frost.

Timberlake’s “Goodbye Letter” peps up the proceedings, but this project never rounds into overdrive. It moves along nicely with good vocals and solid breaks in strong arrangements. Her breathy vocals on her song “Lying Awake At Night” catches the midnight angst of a sleepless night. A hard-driving traditional song would not have hurt the mix. We get close to that old-time bluegrass drive on Ferguson’s “Too Many Nights,” but this is really a songwriter showcase.

For bands looking for new material, or folks who just like that medium-tempo ’grass, this recording falls easy on the ear. The songs have good hooks and masterful presentation. (www.eastofmonroe.com)RCB

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