Shadow Ridge – Hillbilly Big Shots

Shadow Ridge - Hillbilly Big Shots - Bluegrass UnlimitedSHADOW RIDGE
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For their fifth recording, the Knoxville-based Shadow Ridge largely follows the song selection format of their previous releases, programming a fifty/fifty mix of warhorses and more obscure material. Regardless of the source, the overall presentation is good, with vocals (both lead and harmony) being their strongest asset. Both C.F. Bailey and John Siler have strong voices and good command of them; above the regional level norm.

The quality of those voices and that of the harmonies, as well, made me wish Shadow Ridge would have included more tunes from outside the bluegrass/country standards. “East Virginia Blues,” “Banks Of The Ohio,” “Will You Be Loving Another Man,” “Footprints In The Snow,” “Fraulein,” and “Walk Through This World,” are all good songs performed well (very well in the case of “Fraulein” and “Walk”), but need either paring to just one or two selections or need something imaginative done to them. Neither option happens. Granted, the aims of the recording and the band’s audience must be considered, but to widen that audience requires recognizing good material either new or less familiar.

They need more songs equal to the sentiment they wring from “The Leaves Are Slowly Falling,” or the lilt they find in the country of Joan Cosby’s “Follow The Feeling,” or the seamless garment they create on the a cappella of “Beyond Sunset,” a tune drawn from Doyle Lawson’s version of gospel gems. And they definitely could use more songs of the quality of “As Long As I Live.” That one alone, full of stomp and blues and echoes of the sound and angst associated with Danny Paisley, nearly makes up for any number of standards. Had they included even a few more of those type and had downplayed the standards by two-thirds or a half even, what is a good album would have wider appeal. (C.F. Bailey, P.O. Box 384, Tazewell, TN 37879, BW


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