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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Stone Blind Valentine

Burn Like a Field

Review by Gary Hill

This band features Emily Hurd on vocals. That told me it would be a quality project, and it is. This is being billed (at least as I’ve seen it) as bluegrass music. Well, I hear that on some of the songs here. Others, though are more folk oriented than bluegrass to my ears. Whatever you call it, though, this is an excellent set. It features solid vocal performances and some great musicianship. It’s also fun.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Burn Like a Field

Down home country sounds are heard on this. It’s sort of mid-paced at times and slower at others. This is definitely bluegrass. The vocal arrangement really sells it, but the banjo works well, too.

Vintage Heart
More of a balladic number, this is no less old school country music in style. The vocals aren’t as twangy as that would imply, though.
Extra Extra

Although this is still mellow, it’s got more of a folk rock element to it than it does bluegrass. The vocal performance on this one is heads above the rest. Considering that there was nothing wrong with those, that says a lot. This arrangement gets quite involved later. There is also some really dramatic violin playing later in the track.

Promised Land

Another that’s more like folk than bluegrass, this is a mellow, slow moving balladic cut. It’s a strong one.

Gold Fever

Intricate and fast paced, this is one that’s back in the more pure bluegrass territory. It’s a great tune.

Lucky Stars

Here they bring this to more folk oriented territory. In some ways, it makes me think of some of the acoustic guitar based, intricate, folky music that Fleetwood Mac occasionally did. It’s still got an energy and groove to it, though. I really love the vocal performance on this cut.

Blue Columbine

Folk and bluegrass blend on this effective piece. Again, the vocals really steal the show here.

Please Don't Be Mine

Energetic and yet a bit stripped back, this is more “down home” than just about anything here. It’s some great fast paced bluegrass music.

Whiskey Neat

There’s a bit of a bluesy vibe to the bluegrass elements here. It’s one of my favorite cuts on the disc. The arrangement is complex and intricate and this just has a lot of “cool” oozing off it. There’s a bit of a jazz air to this, too. I really love the instrumental section on this one. The vocals are just awesome.

Early America
Here is another cut that I’d think of more as folk music than bluegrass. It’s a strong tune on a disc that’s full of strong songs.
Crown the Kings

More folk oriented, this is one of the mellower songs on the set. It’s also quite dramatic, evocative and powerful. It’s one of my favorites here.

Think What You Will
They close the set with another balladic cut. This is another emotional one and the vocals really bring it all home. There is some great intricate acoustic guitar soloing later in the piece, too.
 
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