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Write what you know. Musicians know the road and that’s the stated inspiration behind the 12 original songs on the second album from Fireside Collective. Truth be told, with one or two possible exceptions, it’s hard to hear why these songs couldn’t have been written without traveling. You might say that “Movin’ On Down That Line,” with its descriptions of wanting to get going, could come from packing in and out of gigs. And “Drivin’ Through The Rain” could easily be road-inspired. So, too, the girl you’re hoping to see when you get back “In From The Cold” or the Gold Rush imagery of “Dreams Of California.”

Of these 12 originals, nine of them are written by mandolinist Jesse Ianquinto and are very good. Good writing. Better melodies. Even better arrangements. A couple have an instant familiarity. Most notable is “Cabin Song,” based tune-wise on “Handsome Molly,” but ending the melodic line on a minor note that surprises every time. Similarly, “Dreams Of California,” has a strong feel of Jimmy Martin, though no one song specifically, but you keep searching to name it. The rest more or less stand on their own melodically. In all cases, the arrangements are stellar. There are a variety of styles from traditional bluegrass to funky, jazzy newgrass to Americana, and there are ear-catching rhythmic punctuations and shifts of mood and tempo, the best example being the down-gearing from a folkish, medium verse to slow, tortured country chorus on “In From The Cold.”

Behind all this is some truly fine musicianship. The instrumental leads are clean and crisp and imaginative, the supporting rhythms creative. The harmonies are fine as well. A little more care could be made here and there on the lead vocals, focusing on rhythmic placing of the wording, but not that much, and it certainly detracts little from a solid recording. (

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