Where a standard secular bluegrass recording often includes a gospel tune, the Mountain Fever debut from Heidi and Ryan sort of reverses that pattern. This is a gospel recording, but among the eleven tracks are four secular songs. The album opens with “Grandma’s Knee,” a tune that alternates short, lurching phrases with longer complex lines and sections of pedal-like sustain. Memories of time with Grandma are its heart and very well done. A bit later, they offer a similar memory song called “Pictures,” this one slow and more dreamlike. That’s followed by “Sometimes Love Hurts,” also slow. Here, the idea is doing what’s right even without reward. The one secular song that falls outside the lines, and not by much really, is a very good cover of the funky and twisty Little Feat tune, “Oh, Atlanta.”
The gospel tunes, with the exception of a traditional rendering of Doyle Lawson’s “There’s A Fire Down Yonder,” performed in contemporary stylings, are often slow and textured. Two of the best are “Come To Jesus,” which has a slow, ethereal quality with lots of space between words and phrases, making it mesmerizing, and “Money Won’t,” a gospel number that catalogues a ’50s pop feel; all the things money won’t do for you, including save you when you’re called home.
Offering these songs and bringing a spark to them are the husband-and-wife team of Heidi and Ryan Greer. Heidi handles all but one of the lead vocals, doing so with a flexible voice that is predominantly velvety and soft, but powerful when needed. Ryan supports her with creative guitar work and sings lead on his original, “Sowing Seeds.” They are backed by Aaron Ramsey, Jeff Partin, Tim Crouch, Ron Stewart, and Matt Cromer.(www.heidiandryanmusic.com)BW