Clayton Knight, a singer/songwriter guitarist based in Portland, Oreg., presents on his new CD a collection of nine vocals and one instrumental that skirts along the verge where bluegrass meets the older country styles of the 1930s. The bluegrass defines the general instrumentation and style of play, while the older country sets the parlor-esque mood and holds the tempos in the slow and medium range. The result is largely a set of hybrid songs that amble along in a gentle wash of sentimentality and wishing, be it the love song “Keep Calling My Name” or the philosophical musings on what is and what might be in “Neither Here.” Of the cover tunes, the version of the Carter Family’s “When The Springtime Comes Again” would also fit that hybrid category.
Here and there, however, are a couple of songs decidedly within one camp or the other. Knight’s gospel original, “The One Who Has All The Power,” is of the older country style of performance. For that, he relies on his own gently strummed guitar and the old-time tremelo mandolin fills and turnarounds of Caleb Lauder of the Foghorn Stringband. Stately trio harmony with Lauder and resonator guitarist/producer Ivan Rosenberg round out the effect. The same could be said of “The View From Here,” Knight’s look at striving into the unknowable, a song which also uses the guitar/mandolin form. “River Lonesome,” with a melody slightly reminiscent of “There Is A Time,” is largely straight-ahead traditional bluegrass.
In addition to the aforementioned Carter Family number are three covers that include Jake Landers’ “Rain, Rain, Rain,” Hank Williams’ “Lonesome Whistle,” and the traditional “Take Me In Your Life Boat.” Of the three, “Lonesome Whistle” along with “The One Who Has All The Power” rate as the most enjoyable tracks, but, in general, this is a pleasant recording. (Eclectica Acoustica, 8018 SW 64th Ave., Portland OR 97219, www.eclecticacoustica.com.)BW