Chris Coole’s beautifully crafted second solo CD has the full title: The Tumbling River and other stories sung and played on five string banjo and guitar. Eight of the twelve pieces are original compositions by Chris. “May Day #1,” which opens the CD, and “May Day #2,” which closes it, are instrumentals co-written with Andrew Collins, who plays mandolin, mandola, and mandocello on the last two cuts. Burke Carrol plays pedal steel on two, Brian Kobayakawa bows the bass on three, Ivan Rosenberg plays resonator on one, Simone Schmidt plays guitar on one and sings on two, Kristine Schmitt sings on four, and John Showman fiddles on one. Schmitt sings haunting lead vocals on Ole Belle Reed’s “Led Me To The Wrong.” Schmidt duets with Coole on “Stone Walls And Steel Bars” and sings harmony on “Reuben’s Train.” The fourth cover is “Beautiful Life,” which was recorded by both the Stanley Brothers and the Delmore Brothers.
“Baby Blue” features Chris singing solo with his clawhammer banjo accompanying. Though it’s a new composition about a sheriff chasing outlaws, it has the sound and subject matter of a very old song. “I Know Your Wandering Heart” is Coole’s take on the gypsy and the lady theme and features Showman’s soaring fiddle to represent the gypsy. “Leaving 2674” is a guitar/reso-guitar duet. “When One Love Is Over” is a country-flavored tear jerker about unrequited love and its aftermath illustrated by pedal steel. “Thinking About Home” is a plaintive reflection by a musician on the road. The title cut uses the droning bass and the sinuousness of the pedal steel to evoke emotion of nature from Chris’ voice and banjo. You probably would not classify this music as strictly old-time or bluegrass, but if you enjoy good songs well-rendered, it is definitely worth a listen. (www.chriscoole.com)SAG