Bishop Hill Records
Acoustic Blue, a four-man band from the Berkshire Mountains of New England, has been nothing if not prolific over the last several years, producing albums in 2006, 2007, 2009, a live DVD in 2010, and then an album per year over the next three years, culminating in this latest effort Bein’ Country.
While the band promotes itself as “fine bluegrass entertainment,” it can’t really be squeezed into a hole—at times sounding more like country music from forty years ago, and others striking a distinctly bluegrass edge. For example, the album’s first cut is the old standard (best known from Flatt & Scruggs) “Your Love Is Like A Flower.” The vocals and tempo are just right to set the tone for a solid bluegrass effort, as is another Flatt & Scruggs effort, “I Don’t Care Anymore.” But, Bein’ Country also features remakes of Kris Kristofferson’s “Once More With Feeling” and Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On,” which are distinct departures from traditional bluegrass. The title track, a nice original, penned by the band’s lead singer Corey Zink, does a nice job of blending the two genres. The instrumental “Struttin’ To Ferrum” is one that traditionalists should certainly enjoy.
Zink (mandolin and lead vocals) is joined by Larry Neu on banjo, Ray Evans on bass, and Shaun Batho on guitar. All of the members sing, and the harmonies are quite smooth throughout. Notable guest appearances on the album are from banjo legend Sammy Shelor, vocalist Gena Britt, and fiddler Mike Hartgrove. It would be accurate to bill this group as country singing with bluegrass instrumentation. (Acoustic Blue, 227 Barker Rd., Pittsfield, MA 01201, www.acousticblueonline.com.)MB