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Various Bluegrass, Blues and Jazz Albums
Review By Steven Stone
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Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain
CHHR2

Carrie Hassler's second album showcases her powerful lead vocals and her band's driving bluegrass style. The CD also demonstrates the band's tight ensemble work and the superb songwriting of banjo player, Josh Miller. His eight songs are tailor-made for Hassler's voice, but I can already hear other artists clamoring to cover these fine tunes. Produced by fiddle virtuoso Jimmy Van Cleve, all the solo breaks on CHHR2 display the level of musical innovation you'd expect from a top shelf bluegrass band.

 

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Cara Luft
The Light Fantastic

Co-founder of the sublime vocal trio, The Wailin' Jennys, Cara left the band in 2006. Her new solo CD has a more rock and roll bent, due in part to producer Neil Osborne's electric sensibilities. But even with a more hard-edged veneer the basic sweetness of Luft's songs shines through. Her original compositions are spiced with Celtic and Anglo/Canadian inflections that harken back to her folk roots. If you liked The Wailin' Jennys' first two releases, you're going to love Luft's new CD.

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The Youngers
Heritage

If you combined The Byrds' twang with Tom Petty's rhythmic lope you'd get a reasonable idea of The Youngers' sound. Their music captures the basic roots rock and roll attitude of the Bodeans and couples it with a large dollop of old-fashioned Grand Ole Opry country imagery. Some of this eclectic classicism probably stems from their producer John Carter Cash, the son of the man in black. If you like your Americana with a ragged electric edge The Youngers will hit you in all the right spots.

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Dan & Susan Robinson
'Round My Door
Threshold Music TM 0089

Dan Robinson has a strikingly handsome voice, the kind of voice that demands your attention. His wife Susan's vocals combine perfectly with his to form a sound that epitomizes old-timey folk music. Their instrumental arrangements are kept simple and primarily acoustic. The overall sound is reminiscent of the first Ian and Silvia albums clean and emotionally direct. Robinson's original songs merge seamlessly with traditional standards to create a seductive and affecting CD. 

 

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