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Chris Castino & Chicken Wire Empire

Fresh Pickles

Review by Gary Hill

There has been a real interest in roots music in the last decade or so. If you want new music that has an honest old-school bluegrass sound, I can't imagine you'll find much better than this. The release is varied, entertaining and convincing. I think that if the recording were more in keeping with the old stuff from the genre, you might believe that this is from a by-gone era. I have to think that that would be high praise for practitioners of this style.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Kangaroo
Some fast paced bluegrass jamming opens this. The cut works out to a group treatment from there for this bouncy and fun tune.
Red Sky

The fiddle brings a particularly level of seriousness and magic to this cut. This isn't as playful as the opener was, but it's no less charming. There is a certain sense of drama to it.

Bound For The South
Here we get a slow moving bluegrass ballad. This is effective and rather evocative. There is a definite folk music angle to it. For some reason I'm reminded a little of Neil Young. It does get a bit more energized but remains on the mellower side of the spectrum.
Shantytown
More up-tempo, this number is so much fun. I like this one a lot.
Minnesota Moon
There is more of a down-home country element to this thing.
Texas Fireball

I love the fast-paced bluegrass jamming on this thing. It's so much fun.

Goodbye, Fond Du Lac (Young Pioneer)
A mellower, down-home country ballad, this number is entertaining.
Rhode Island Red
This fast-paced old-time bluegrass number is another winner. It has some great jamming and is one of the highlights here. The jamming later in the tune is particularly strong.
Jackson County
While I wouldn't really call this a ballad, it's a lot slower than the last tune. It's a real hillbilly song that lands along the mid-tempo range.
The Ballad Of Dan Toe
I really dig the instrumental work on this a lot. There is some smoking hot interplay late in the number specifically. The song is more energetic than the one that came before it.
Irregular Heartbeat
I dig the down-home quality and groove of this mellower tune. It's still energetic, although it's lower in volume and intensity.
 
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