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Frank Solivan takes a bit of a U-turn with his latest recording and the results are more grounded, more down-to-earth, and dare it be said, more traditional. Those of you expecting the expansive jazz and rock jamming that characterized much of his previous recordings should not, however, despair. His opener “Pretty Woman,” featuring the harmony singing and a “mercy” or two from Del McCoury, should ease your mind. The tempo picks up during Mike Munford’s trademark banjo solo and carries through Solivan’s solo, evolving into the “Day Tripper” riff before trailing off to a conclusion. Or so it seems. The “trail off” is really the beginning of a slightly extended jam that eventually circles back to the “Pretty Woman” riff. That’s followed by an island-sounding Solivan original song about family and vacations called “Mask, Snorkel and Fins.” As with “Pretty Woman,” it is riff-driven and features a modest jam. A bit later is an even stronger island-sounding tune, “You Don’t Write.” That, too, has some extended soloing.
Mostly though, this is an album about celebrating roots. To that end, Solivan brings in family members and influential friends and focuses on songs he associates with both. “Mexico,” a duet with his cousin Megan McCormick, and “Leaving On A Jet Plane,” a full band treatment with high harmony from John Cowan, are more pop-related. The rest are largely associated with country and bluegrass. There is another fine duet with McCormick on the old-time and sentimental “Put Me In Your Pocket,” followed by a straight-ahead cover of “I Still Miss Someone” and a couple tracks later by Frank’s mother singing a bluesy and emotional “Wayfaring Stranger.” Two mandolin duets, “Dark Hollow” with Sam Bush and “When The Leaves Turn Brown” with Ronnie McCoury, round out the highlights.
Where does this album lead Solivan? Who knows? Just enjoy. (Compass Records, 916 19th Ave. S, Nashville, TN 37212, www.compassrecords.com.)BW