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Various Bluegrass & Blues Albums

Review By Steven Stone
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Los Angeles Guitar Quartet
LAGQ Brazil

Superbly recorded in both two-channel and surround sound, this SACD (with regular CD layer) explores Latin-American music with gentle verve. Joining the regular four-piece guitar quartet, vocalist Luciana Souza, flutist Katise Buckingham and percussionist Kevin Ricard contribute additional musical spice to this heady musical confection. The opening cut, "MasQue Nada," combines equal parts of suavity with dynamic energy. The third cut, "O MarroNao tem vez,”" display the quartet's near-perfect contrapuntal abilities. This CD gets a MuitoBom (very good in Portugese) rating.

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Ricky Skaggs & The Whites
Salt Of The Earth

Joined by his father-in-law, Buck White, sister-in-law, Cheryl White, and wife, Sharon, Ricky Skaggs' latest release demonstrates both his musicianship and his faith. All song choices on Salt of the Earthwere inspired by Bible quotes, but instead of relying on old standards, Salt of the Earth includes material by non-traditional songwriters such as Janis Ian. The recording group includes many regulars from Skaggs' Kentucky Thunder bluegrass band, but the arrangements lean more toward old-time acoustic country than bluegrass.

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A.J. Roach
Revelation

A.J. Roach's second solo album, Revelation, combines equal parts of old-timey rusticism with neo-modern morbidity. Country music great Tom T. Hall calls Roach, "A true poet." Roach's dark lyrics combine with sunny melodies to create a film-noirish cinematic landscape choc-a-block with ironic characters and situations. His Song ‘Chemicals" typifies this ability to successfully mix ancient and modern metaphors. Roach also mixes acoustic and electric instruments with uncanny skill. Synthesizers and glockenspiels join acoustic guitars, mandolins, banjos, and fiddles to create complex atmospheric musical textures.

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Karla Bonoff
Live

Live includes 21 songs spanning Karla Bonoff's 40-year career. Recorded in Santa Barbara, CA, in October 2004 this CD reveals Bonoff's special ability to craft and perform emotionally involving music. Joined by a crack band including Nina Gerber on lead guitar and Kenny Edwards on guitar, mandolin, cello, and vocals, Bonoff's lead vocals resonate with intimacy and subtle emotion. The two new songs on Live demonstrate that Bonoff has not lost her finely honed songwriting chops.

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