Banjoist C.W. Mundy crosses a lot of borders on his recording Road Trip: Crossing Borders. However, it’s not obvious that all of them needed to be crossed at one time. In spite of a lot of great musicianship on display, the whole of the recording suffers from trying to cram too many different styles into one recording, making the result somewhat disjointed.
Mundy wrote all of the songs and lyrics and his songwriting skills cover a lot of ground. The moody instrumental “Door County Cove” has a fine bluegrass feel that, if not for actually having a banjo on it, might remind the listener of Tony Rice’s Manzanita album. Alice Vestal’s vocals shine throughout the CD, particularly on the country-inflected “I Cried Love” (definitely my favorite track) and the lovely “Through The Eyes Of A Child.” The bluesy “Not Gonna Settle For Less” and the up-tempo swing excursion “We Got Nothin’ Ta Lose” are fun tunes with catchy melodies and solid rhythm. The most bluegrass-sounding instrumental on the recording is “Duck Creek,” powered by Mundy’s driving banjo and featuring a dandy guitar break from Jeff Autry.
On the other hand, there’s really no discernible reason for including the disco noodling and funk bass solo in “Disco This Way” or the silly “Midday In Mamaus” rap. There may be an audience for songs like these, but in combination with the rest of the CD, it doesn’t work. Taste aside, Mundy’s playing is stellar throughout, as are contributions from A-list stalwarts Jim VanCleve and Randy Kohrs. We’d expect nothing less from such great players. If you can pick and choose your favorite tracks from the whole recording and don’t mind some coloring outside of the lines, it could be a road trip worth taking. (Moon Surf Records, 2322 Foster Ave, Nashville, TN 37219, www.moonsurfrecords.com.) AWIII