The Roe Family Singers are from Minnesota and feature Kim Roe on vocals, autoharp, and washboard, and Quillan Roe on vocals, banjo, and archtop guitar, plus a large backup band with everything from electric guitar to musical saw. These 15 selections (there is one medley) include five Roe originals, a tune by fiddler Ric Lee, five traditional songs, and other selections from A.P. Carter, Albert E. Brumley, Bill Monroe, and Woody Guthrie.
The CD opens with a solo banjo introduction to “Pretty Fair Maid In The Garden,” sung in a strong and sweet duet by the Roes. The first original, “O Young Lovers,” sounds as if it could be an old song. Kim Roe reveals a powerful rockabilly voice in “Ida Red.” Another original, “John The Messenger” has a gospel message, but sounds more contemporary. Their arrangement of “Rank Strangers To Me” is simple and lovely with soaring vocals. The next original, “Peter Tosh,” is very old-time with a clawhammer lead and a topical message. The single instrumental track is a medley of “Swedish Schottische” and “The Bluejay” by Lee, from one-two-three jump to minor. The second tune sounds a bit like “Shady Grove.” The last two Roe originals are “I’m Falling For You” and “The Road Is Rocky.” “Falling…” has a Western Swing sound. A hard-driving version of “Hallelujah, I’m Ready To Go” serves as the gospel number. “Sweet Fern” gets another simple arrangement with a solo guitar introduction and features Kim Roe singing in a voice both pretty and powerful. Monroe’s “Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine” appropriately gets a bluegrass treatment in both vocals and backup. I hear a different singer on lead and there is three-part harmony on the chorus. The liner notes say that guitar player Dan Gaarder is also on vocals. The closer, “This Land Is Your Land,” is done in a folk style (as could be expected).
This is primarily a vocal album with two excellent and well-matched voices. It covers a wide range of styles, and gets most of them spot on. If that appeals to you, give them a listen. (Pinecastle Records, 2514 River Rd., Ste. 105, Piedmont, SC 29673, www.pinecastlemusic.com.)SAG