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CD REVIEW: Kickin Grass Band - On the Short Rows
By Chip Withrow - 12/28/2005 - 02:32 PM EST

Artist: The Kickin Grass Band
Album: On the Short Rows
CD Review: The disc starts out sounding like a field recording of first-generation mountain music – just banjo and plaintive voice. The fiddle and the harmony vocals contribute to the authentic bluegrass vibe of that first cut, “Lay Down Your Weary Load.” Then the chorus, and the riffs that follow the chorus, stick in your head like the melody of a well-crafted pop song.

The Kickin Grass Band blends old-time high lonesome sounds and cool hooks throughout On the Short Rows. The result is a CD that covers the spectrum of acoustic music from haunting old-time folk (“When My Days Are Full of Sorrow”) to country western (“Change Your Mind”) to modern country (“Ain’t Got Nothin’”).

The album has more than its share of toe-tapping rave-ups such as “Fairest Rose,” “Dear Sarah,” “Hello It’s Me” and the instrumental “Pot Liquor.” The band members (and guests on a couple tracks) are first-class singers and players.

Certainly, this band can shred. “Pot Liquor,” written by fiddler Matt Hooper, gives everyone a chance to tear it up. But Short Rows stand out from other bluegrass/“new grass” offerings because of the high caliber of the songs the band has written and chosen.

Lynda Wittig Dawson is an expressive vocalist, and she’s a truly gifted writer who penned six songs. One of her best is “Molly” because it’s spectral, soaring, and fleetingly fast, but it’s hard to pick a favorite.

The title cut deserves mention because it’s so different from the rest of the disc – a sing-songy, bluesy invitation to kick back. Another tune worth noting again is “Ain’t Got Nothin’” because it is just as hit-worthy as any song on contemporary country radio.

Once you listen to the Kickin Grass Band's On the Short Rows the first time, you’ll find yourself returning to it and appreciating its nuances. You’ll find treasures like the harmonies on “Fairest Rose,” the ever-increasing tempo of “Rock Island Line,” and the well-placed minor chords that add drama to several songs. On the Short Rows is a CD to be dug on many levels.

www.kickingrass.com


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