Hearth Music

   Steeped in the musical traditions of the heartland, Kentucky and Ohio-native Missy Werner recalls classic moments of loneliness, spirituality, love, and time gone by in her latest release. In songs penned by some of the country’s brightest writers, seamlessly produced (Jon Weisberger), and sung passionately with a power reminiscent of Union Station, Werner’s music takes the listener on an enjoyable journey that ranges from fast-paced bluegrass to emotive country ballads, with meticulously blended harmonies. And, by the way, Werner can really sing. Her pristine vocals are polished, tender, and emotive.

Most of the songs dwell on the heart, from the unrequited love of the slow ballad “You Never Care” to the mid-tempo kick-off number “I Always Do,” a song of devotion and loneliness. Many of the 14 songs on this CD are slow- to mid-tempo stories, some revealing the desolation of development, as in “Main Street,” while others reveal what it’s like to live in the moment in “Cloudless Blue.”

Werner plays mandolin and gets fine backing instrumentally and vocally from her band: Artie Werner (bass), Tim Strong (guitar), Jeff Roberts (banjo, banjo-resonator guitar), and Brandon Godman (fiddle). More than a half-dozen others join her, as well, from Sierra Hull who provides the soulful ballad “A Song That I Love” to Larry Cordle’s harmonies in “Dead Man Walking.” Fans looking for straight-up bluegrass will enjoy Carter Stanley’s snappy classic “I Just Got Wise,” Eric Gibson’s fast-paced “Rocks In The River,” and the deftly-crafted harmonies of the gospel-infused “Travelin’ Light,” a Rick Lang/Weisberger song set to cross-picked guitar (Charlie Cushman). The mournful instrumental “Snake In The Grass” and “The Heart You Break” add a quick pace to this well-rounded collection. Whether you like your bluegrass fast, slow, or someplace in-between, Werner’s CD is likely to turn your heart around in short order and make you a fan. (www.missywerner.com)SI

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