Mountain Fever Records

Kentucky-based vocalist Dave Adkins spent several years working in country and rock bands. So finding such colorations in his delivery on this forceful album of country and traditional and contemporary-style bluegrass tunes is not surprising. We are the heirs of our past, and for Adkins his past has evolved into an intriguing, throaty mid-range vocal that is powerful and flexible, full of twists and slurring word bends.

He makes full use of that power and those bends on this set of twelve songs, all written by contemporary songwriters, including four from Adkins himself. Of those twelve, five are of the slow, country variety, and it’s among them that several of the standout tracks are found. “Silence Is Golden,” a ballad from Trey Ward, would be one, as would “Pretty Little Liar,” a tune with hints of a Roy Orbison-style melody. Both are very good tunes to start with, and Adkins’ singing makes them all the better. One that may not get the recognition it deserves, but is every bit as powerful is his original gospel tune “Don’t Pray That Way.” Again, Adkins’ voice gives it a boost, though honestly, his story of a dying woman asking people to pray for others needs no real boost.

Adkins’ approach on the faster tracks is more of a mixed bag. On the medium tunes, such as the 3/4-time “Moonshine In The Moonlight” and his straight bluegrass original “Pike County Jail,” the fit is good. But only on “Tennessee Twister” (among the three uptempo tunes) can the same be said, and even it takes a bit to get going. As with many singers of strong country or rock backgrounds, Joe Diffie being a good example, the blend is not as convincing on fast, straight bluegrass tunes. Those here are okay, but get lost among the better tracks of what is a good all-around album. (Mountain Fever Records, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd., Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.)BW

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