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Sam Bush
Laps In Seven

Review By Steven Stone

  Since his first recordings with the Newgrass Revival over 30 years ago, Sam Bush's reputation as one of the premiere mandolin players of his generation has continued to grow and prosper. His latest release, Laps In Seven, continues his tradition of creative musical exploration. Speaking of traditions, on the inner cover photo Sam Bush is playing the late mandolin legend Jethro Burn's Gibson A-5 custom, which resides in Sam Bush's instrument collection.

The album opens with a powerful cover of Julie Miller's tune "The River's Gonna Run" and then proceeds to tear it up for the next fifty-five minutes. Sam Bush has always championed new songwriters. He's often the first to cover songs that go on to become contemporary classics. On Laps In Seven tunes from the likes of John Hartford, Jeff Black, John Pennell, David LaFlamme, Robbie Fulks, Leon Russell, Jean Luc Ponty, and Darrell Scott join a pair of his original instrumentals. Along with premiering many fine songs, Sam Bush has also been a savvy bandleader. Most of the players on his early albums have gone on to be stars in their own right. On this outing his core band includes Byron House on bass, Chris Brown on drums, Scott Vestal on banjo, and Keith Sewell on guitar. Guest appearances by Emmylou Harris, Shaun Murphy, Tim O'Brien, and Andrea Zonn on vocals, and Jean Luc Ponty and Andrea Zonn on fiddle give Laps In Seven even more spice.

Previous Sam Bush's albums have ranged from straight acoustic and bluegrass amalgamations to more electric configurations. On Laps In Seven the arrangements split the difference, with a standard array of acoustic instruments sharing the stage with electric guitars, bass, drums, and electric violin. The musical results sit firmly within the boundaries of pop Americana with Bush playing the role of the great popularizer. I'm very familiar with the original versions of the Julie Miller, Darryl Scott, and David LaFlamme tunes covered on Laps In Seven. Bush's covers don't vary far from the originals. Only on his own compositions, such as the title cut, does his unique ability to combine divergent genres into new composite musical forms really stand out.

Recorded by David Sinko at the Sound Emporium on Nashville, TN during January and February of 2006, and mastered by Randy LeRoy at Final Stage Mastering, this self-produced CD has all the spit and polish of a big-budget A-list Nashville release. Perhaps that's because it was mixed and mastered by the best talents Nashville has to offer. Laps In Seven makes it perfectly clear that a well-made CD can sound both detailed and natural. Need I say it? I recommend this CD for both the music and the sound.




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