This is an interesting program of tunes and songs drawing from wide-ranging sources including Jim Croce, Bob Wills, and Tim O’Brien with a nod to Latin music with “Compadres In The Old Sierra Madres” and a Puerto Rican melody, “El Combanchero.” On their website, they call this Southwestern bluegrass. Whatever you call it , it’s fun. Bandmember Kevin Slick adds a pair of fine originals to the mix that also includes some Celtic and old-time tunes.
The vocals are all strong and owe more to Western Swing than bluegrass, with fine harmonies throughout the project. Their take on “Working On A Building”/“Old Time Religion” blends two old sacred numbers in a new way that captures a nice vibe. Savage’s lead vocal on this cut is extraordinary. They bring a solid new ’grass reading to Malcolm McKinney’s gem “Don’t Cry Blue.” A somewhat sedate, but respectful version of “Ragtime Annie” displays the oft neglected third part in the key of G ending with some choice twin fiddling.
Through 11 songs and tunes this band shows off the expansive range of their music. While not all bluegrass, it’s all very good. This is a fine recording of interesting material played with great flare and panache. They feature some very talented guests: Becky Buller, Jeff Scroggins, Greg Blake, and Ellie Hakanson. Annie Savage fiddles up a storm while her bandmate Kevin Slick plays a range of instruments and Kit Simon holds down the resonator guitar and guitar roles. Everyone sings except Bianca Bentz, who holds it all together with her fine bass playing. (www.savagehearts.com)RCB