Eddy Raven’s foray into bluegrass can be traced to his appearance on Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road’s bluegrass tribute to country music of the ’70s. He was one of ten or so stars of the period who put their lead voices to bluegrass/country-hybrid reprises of some of their hits. Raven contributed “I Got Mexico,” one of that album’s highlights. Two years later, that release prompted Raven to throw in all together with a full bluegrass recording. Again, Jordan and Carolina Road are the backing band.
Most of the material consists of bluegrass versions of some of Raven’s better-known songs. He, again, includes “I Got Mexico,” giving it a bit more bluegrass flavor and an extended solo section, but retains the catchy riff that helps define the song. It’s a highlight track. There’s a fine version of “Thank God For Kids,” and uptempo versions of “Operator, Operator,” “Bayou Boys,” and “Who Do You Know In California.” All are good, as is the pedal steel country of “Island.” Raven wrote the title tune opener, a medium/fast rhythmic tune about getting wrapped up in bluegrass music.
Raven has a good feel for bluegrass phrasing, and his songs (with the help of Carolina Road’s backing) make the transition with ease. The tunes don’t sound forced into a bluegrass mold, nor do they lose their original country flavor. The mixing of Raven’s different vocal sound and a break from the usual lyric fare, all wrapped up in bluegrass, makes for a welcome change of pace. (Pinecastle Records, 2514 River Rd., Ste. 105, Piedmont, SC 29673, www.pinecastlemusic.com.)BW