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Alecia Nugent
Alecia Nugent

Review By Steven Stone
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Alecia Nugent Alecia Nugent

CD Number: Rounder Records 116 610 518-2 

 

  Don't let the odd spelling of her first name lead you to believe that Alecia Nugent might be one of those quirky, overly affected, country pop divas that the major labels trot out with lugubrious regularity. Instead her debut album harkens back to the days when bluegrass was new and direct unadorned voices with a country twang were the norm. Populated by refreshing neo-traditional arrangements this self-titled release presents a strong case for Alecia Nugent's imminent stardom.

Producer Carl Jackson assembled a stellar group of pickers for Alecia's first release. Carl handles guitar and banjo duties, while Ben Isaacs plays bass, Aubrey Haney fiddle, Ronnie McCoury mandolin, and Randy Kohrs  dobro. Harmony vocalists include Carl Jackson, Rhonda Vincent, Jimmy Nugent, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Larry Cordle, Jerry Salley, and Sonya Isaacs. Material on the CD ranges from standards such as Lester Flatt's "I'll Stay Around," Carter Stanley's "Think of What You've Done," and Tibby Edward's "But I Do" to contemporary tunes written by Carl Jackson (who contributes 3 songs) and Larry Cordle (who has 2 songs.) Regardless of the author, every song feels as if it was written specifically for Alecia Nugent. Carl Jackson's arrangements highlight Nugent's voice the way a fine haircut frames a face. Each player in the band deliver some wonderful musical moments, and in every case their contributions add to the songs' power rather than draw attention away from the tunes. The rendition of Carter Stanley's "Think of What You've Done" typifies the album's approach. The song's pace has been slowed down from its typical breakneck pace so that Alecia's voice can soar on the vocals. The solos all swing rather than race through their moments in front, echoing Alecia's bluesy phrasing.

Engineer and mixer Luke Wooten delivers a sonic package with bows on it. The sound is clear, warm, and inviting. Alecia's voice is always front and center, but never too out front ala pop recordings (think Faith Hill.) Instead her supporting super-pickers surround her, so that it sounds like a band, not a solo act.

I hope Alecia's first release is a rousing success, not for altruistic reasons, but selfish personal ones I want to hear another release from her.

 

 

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