Mountain Fever Records
MFR 140624

   New to Mountain Fever Records and making their recording debut as a well is Rachel Burge and Blue Dawning. Burge is on mandolin. Lance Gainer plays guitar, Michele Birkby-Vance the fiddle, Radford Vance the banjo, and Rick Westerman the bass. Everyone shares in the singing, Burge taking most of the leads. Several tracks feature male vocals, though who sings what is not known. It’s probable that Radford Vance is singing his own composition, “Barefootin’,” but that’s a calculated guess.

For their song selection, Burge has drawn about half from the band and half from the writing talents of Paula Breedlove, Brad Davis, Mark Brinkman, Bill Carlisle, Tammy Rogers-King and Ronnie Bowman. There are five band originals—two from Burge, two from Radford Vance, and one from Michele Birkby-Vance. Bill Monroe’s instrumental “Kentucky Mandolin” is the one standard.

When this recording is at its best, it stands up well with much of what is on the market today. Their version of “April Snow” is impeccable, nicely lilting, full of warmth, and good medium flow. Much slower, though equally impressive, is “I’ve Kissed You My Last Time,” a Bill Carlisle tune. That one is laden emotion. On the uptempo end, a standout is “Kentucky Mandolin,” which, along with her excellent solo on her original, “My Cold Heart,” shows what a fine mandolinist Burge is. “Home Place In The Mountains,” a solid traditional number from Birkby-Vance is right there with it and has a good feel. “I’ve Seen Enough Of What’s Behind Me” is solid as well. “Sisters Of The Mountain” certainly has grit and force in both the singing and playing and story, but is slightly diminished by a brittle sound and solos that sound “punched in.”

On the whole, this recording is slightly above average with moments of brilliance and high promise. (Mountain Fever Records, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd., Willis VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.)BW

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