Mountain Fever Records
MFR 160226

With his third recording for Mountain Fever, Dave Adkins has brought all the musical threads together and produced his finest work to date. I’ve noted that the one area for Adkins needing work was his bluegrass phrasing. His last recording was almost there. This one is. One need only listen to his cover of Randall Hylton’s uptempo “Wasting Away” to see he has his bluegrass phrasing together now. Better still is the auctioneer vocals of “Sold,” a burner that uses auction imagery revealing a man’s sudden infatuation with a woman. Rich Fagen and Rob Royer wrote it, but Adkins really makes it go, earning it album highlight status.

Those tunes aside, this is really more of a Dave Adkins music recording than a bluegrass one. Calling it “Dave Adkins’ music” does not mean, necessarily, that others can or will follow his style, but rather as soon as you hear it, you know it’s Dave Adkins. His musical style is unique unto itself, a blend of bluegrass (both contemporary and traditional), hard country, Southern rock, robust, rough-and-ready vocals and a heap of confidence and charisma.

The first two tracks, “Change Her Mind” and “Emmaline” best define the Adkins approach. The first is earthy and rhythmically-enticing and should have wide appeal. The second, more ominous and perhaps not destined for as wide acceptance, is arguably the most Adkins through and through. His vocals, deep and twisting, bring out great emotion in what is a sordid, horrific tale of cheating and death. Both are highlights.

Similar vocal intensity and high quality follows throughout on the classic country of “It’s Not Over (Till I Get Over You)” or the softer “Angel Song.” This is his finest work to date. (Mountain Fever Records, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd., Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.)BW

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