Michelle Nixon and Drive – A Place I Belong

Michelle Nixon and Drive - A Place I Belong - Bluegrass UnlimitedMICHELLE NIXON AND DRIVE
Mountain Fever Records
MFR 110701

Michelle Nixon returns to the bluegrass road with this album. She wasn’t completely off the road, of course having played on several Daughters of Bluegrass projects, but this is her first recording with Drive since 2005. Nick Nixon is still on guitar and still singing a few leads and still writing good songs in tandem with Michelle. Guitarist Patrick Robertson also sings a couple leads and contributes a couple nice originals. Mike Sharp on resonator guitar, Jonathan Dillon on mandolin, Tim Newcomb on banjo and John Wade on bass round out a solid group.

Much here is about love in all its permutations, and among those so themed are several tracks of note. The Nixons “Your Kind Of Love” looks at love from the positive side and has an upbeat, major sound for emphasis. Their “A Place I Belong,” a George/Tammy-like duet, uses a drifting, pensive, country style to underscore the disorientation after a breakup. Both are good songs, though not quite in the class with the writing/melody level of “Too Blue” and “Top Of The World.” The former was once covered by Jeanette Williams, who took it a little slower. Here the arrangement is a bit bouncier and more complex, though Michelle sings it largely in the style of Williams. “Top Of The World,” a huge country/pop hit for the Carpenters in the ’70s has been surprisingly overlooked by bluegrass. Why? Who can say, for it is perfect for the genre, as Drive shows with their interpretation.

The most thought-provoking song here is the Nixons “Where Do We Go From Here.” In these seemingly more-troubled times, it certainly sounds an appropriate note of concern. Though it hints at a solution, it also leaves us with a hanging phrase and a sense of uncertainty. Fortunately, Nixons solid return recording doesn’t end on a somber subject, but rather with a bang, as she offers her own raucous version of Tom T.’s “Harper Valley PTA.” Always leave them smiling. (Mountain Fever Records, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd. NW, Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.) BW

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