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True North

Review By Steven Stone
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True North Pluck

CD Number: TrueNorthbluegrass.com 672617032226


  True North has perfected a musical style that combines bluegrass spirit with folk sensibilities to create folk-grass. Perhaps it lacks maximum bluegrass fire, but in True North's hands music has a certain warmth and friendliness that many traditional bands lack.

This Oregon-based five-piece band consists of Kristen Grainger on lead vocals, Dan Wetzel on mandolin, guitar, and vocals, Dale Adkins on guitar, banjo, and vocals, Suzanne Pearce on upright bass and vocals, and Tim Darby on dobro. Adkins and Pearce are recent acquisitions to the band, replacing fiddler Jeff Shippy, bassist Sam Samuels, and banjo player Matt Gray, who played on true North's first album, Cobalt Miles of Sky. Even with the personnel changes the basic sound of the band has changed little between albums. Kristen Grainger's dulcet lead vocals and Dan Wetzel's instrumental work set the tone for Pluck. Five originals by Grainger and Wetzel join covers of tunes by a wide variety of songwriters including Mindy Smith, K.D. Lang, Richard Shindell, Tom Petty, Chris Isaak, Scott Miller, and Kevin Welch. Sometimes the True North rendition is mellower than the original such as with Tom Petty's " Free Fallen." Other times True North ups the pace as with Chriss Isaak's "I Wonder." On every song True North's spot-on vocal harmonies serve to give their music a sunny glow.

Another important aspect of True North's sound is the quality of the recording. Engineered and co-produced by Dale Adkins in his Adams Ridge Studios in the Willamette Valley, Pluck's sonics equal anything I've heard from more prominent acoustic specialist labels. Grainger's lead vocals have just enough ambience and space without getting too "wet" or distant. The balance between the lead vocals, harmony parts and instruments is also nearly perfect.

True North's Pluck proves that you don't need a big label or large budget to produce a fine album with first class sound. If you like your folk or bluegrass with a mellifluous edge, give True North's Pluck a listen.




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