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West Missouri Ramble appears to be a labor of love by Missourian Bill Graham. This is primarily a singer-songwriter CD, featuring Graham and his guitar with occasional bluegrass or old-time backing on a few cuts. Songs here typically reminisce on family members, friends, and those who have made a lasting impression on Graham. There are also three instrumentals in the mix: “Platte Falls,” “Old Bent Cedar,” and “Prairie Fandango,” the latter being the only cut not composed by Graham. Among the stronger cuts here are “Forestyne’s Waltz” sung by Connie Dover with nice fiddle by Terry Brock and “Hold To Grace” written about Graham’s father’s war experience.

There are significant problems with this release. Graham’s vocals are generally pleasant, but in some cases (“Six Long Rings” and “Osage River Blues”), the words are unintelligible, either buried under the instrumentals or simply indistinct or the vocals seem strained. The instrumental support is very rudimentary on several cuts. The listed order of cuts, after some point, seems to bear no relationship to the order on the CD (an unlisted “ghost track” notwithstanding), making it difficult to speak about some of the tunes with certainty here.

There is some nice music here, for those who favor the singer-songwriter genre. More attention to the mixing and general production might have made this of interest beyond family and friends of the musicians. (Bill Graham, P.O. Box 1153, Platte City, MO 64079.)AW

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