CD Review – Various Artists – “Close Kin – A Reunion of Bluegrass and Old-Time Music”
Starting this review has been very intimidating…… and this writer is usually not at a loss for words, but, this time….. Here we go! The official title is: “CLOSE KIN, A Reunion of Bluegrass and Old-Time Music.” Now…. You’re going to need a map, a reading light and lots of time, because listening to this CD is not only going to be a musical adventure, it is also going to be an American History lesson. And, its going to be a musicology lesson, a geography lesson, a Civil War lesson, a coal mining lesson, a Great Depression lesson…… Now do you see why it was so hard to get started? There’s a lot of ground to cover.
Mr. Karl Cooler, CEO of Mountain Roads Recordings, Bristol, Tennessee, had a dream to bring his label’s artist roster together, along with other musician friends, and record a CD full of the music from the Appalachian Highlands region of America. Here’s where the map comes in handy! Go to the liner notes for directions to find this distinctive area of the USA.
He then chose his friend, Johnny Williams, an award winning Danville, Virginia singer/song-writer to produce it, arrange the music and make that music happen.
Every musician on “Close Kin” must have known and felt how magical this CD was going to be, because they all gave it their best effort. 12-year-old Samantha Snyder on fiddle and vocals had no problem trading “hot licks” with 5-time Grammy winner and 7-time IBMA mandolin player of the year Adam Steffey.
From the way they sounded together, its hard to tell who had more fun, more talent or was more impressed with the other. Turn on your reading light now, because you’ll be reading over the liner notes with a fine tooth comb to see just who is playing where. I guarantee you’ll be that interested. And this CD is one of the most beautifully packaged releases I’ve seen. First class in every way.
Be prepared for the first song, “Chilly Winds,” with Johnny Williams singing lead, to kick it all off with a bang. It even has Wesley Easter coming out from behind his recording board to play banjo. Jeanette Williams sings the next song, “Little Bird of Heaven,” as though it were written just for her. Adam Steffey sings lead on “Rattlin’ Bones,” and his voice is so big coming out of the speakers you’d swear he was standing right next to you in the graveyard! Wesley Easter’s talent in the control room really shines on this one. These three songs are favorites……today! Who knows which one it’ll be tomorrow…….
If you love acoustic music, “Close Kin” needs to be in your collection. It also needs to be considered by the IBMA for its coveted “Recording Event of the Year” award. Mr. Cooler has admirably achieved his goal, but, this CD is so much more that just a reunion of bluegrass and old time music….. It is a true American experience.
Excerpted from the Prescription Bluegrass Blog
READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE