In a country where adults are starving for music that is not bland pop, that is nonetheless accessible, and that is aimed at adult sensibilities, the sales rank of this recording disappoints me. Hopefully this review will help to do something about the sickness that results from the lack of substance being tube-fed to us by the music industry. Too much truly great music is commercially stillborn for failure to fit a niche within the narrow range of radio formats, or for failure to be safely classified as one genre or another.
Have you ever wondered where they get those great musical interludes on PBS or NPR? Quite often the answer is this ensemble, or some portion thereof in yet another great and genre bending band. Sam Bush is known to many as a long time member of the traveling virtuosos that were New Grass Revival, and Marshall can play mandolin with anyone. Neither could be called a mindless picker by anyone but a closed-minded clod. There is a depth and discipline to their bodies of work that would make any cultured person take note whether or not their source genre, bluegrass, appeals to a particular person's sensibility. On this recording, they alternate between solid foundation rhythms, melodies that will stay with you like a winter's remembrance of sun on your back, and beautiful harmonies. However, those of you who have never seen the country from anything but a car window need not fear. I'm not much of a country fan, and this is not a bluegrass recording. Meyer and Bell on, respectively, bass and violin, bring the sensibilities of modern classical music to bear. The recording includes thoughtful chamber compositions, but it is not really a classical recording. There are several songs that are most akin to one genre or another, but this recording defies description as anything but one of the most stirring, fundamentally original, thoroughgoingly American voices to have ever spoken. You can hear the simple and sometimes mournful echoes of Scottish and Irish immigrants from times as distant as the nineteenth century, and listen as these voices blend with the less structured, less melodic, and more troubled voices of our own times.
If you are someone who digs in every musical crevice looking for something fresh and tasteful, this is a musical truffle. I own a large collection of music. Nothing is played by me more often than this. Some songs, like "BT", are on play lists that consist of bouncy and upbeat amalgams of folk and jazz, others are on my lists for rainy days spent with a cup of tea and a good book. If you buy this recording, you will know why the book is often set aside. This is a recording that sometimes warrants turning off the lights and looking over the water, allowing both to absorb me.