CD Number: www.rebeccahoggan.com
Although I get more than enough CDs every month from major record labels to fill my meager CD review quota several times over, I still look for outstanding independent self-produced releases worthy of your attention. Born In East Virginia from Rebecca Hoggan definitely makes the grade. It proves that not all major talents are on major labels.
Born In East Virginia, Hoggan's second solo release, features an impressive array of sidemen. Darol Anger on fiddle, Todd Phillips on acoustic bass, Bill Evans on banjo, Jo Craven on percussion, Sam Pointer on mandolin and guitar, Todd Livingston on dobro, and David Mosher on fiddle and vocals, join Rebecca's vocal, flatpick guitar, and mandolin. David Grisman quintet fans will recognize a number of these musicians from his past ensembles. The musicianship on Born In East Virginia rivals anything you'll hear on a big budget big label release. Hoggan is not only a fine flatpicker, but also a hot mandolin player, as you'll hear on her version of "Big Mon." Her voice reminds me of early Dolly Parton, with a fine airy soprano range that is perfect on "High on a Mountain" and "Faithless Love." Forays outside of traditional bluegrass material into jazz on "Too Darn Hot" and "Autumn Leaves" work surprisingly well considering Hoggan's voice is definitely not the archetypical jazz singer's smoky alto. Mixed among the traditional bluegrass classics and jazz standards are four original tunes. Hoggan's "Telluride Mandolin," a very jazz inflected instrumental, contrasts nicely with "Big Hogg," a hardcore bluegrass romp.
Sonically Born In East Virginia is first rate. Producer and engineer Jim Nunally, an IBMA and Grammy award-winning guitarist as well as a member of John Reichman's Jaybirds, created a natural and airy soundstage where each part is distinct yet blends well to create a tight ensemble sound. Born In East Virginia is worth searching out. You can find it at www.Amazon.com or on Rebecca's website at www.RebeccaHoggan.com.