unseenstrangersalbumTHE UNSEEN STRANGERS

   Adam Shier (guitar), James McEleney (bass), Matt Elwood (banjo), and Mike Mezzatesta (mandolin) are the Unseen Strangers out of Toronto, Canada. This quartet’s third release of progressive bluegrass still has traditional bluegrass at its backbone. The nine original tracks from the mind of Shier include the most popular single, “Buster,” a straightforward flatpicking guitar instrumental. “Wicked Lover” is a traditional mountain song with an interesting twist on the classic murder ballad. This time around, the man gets axed. (Times were getting colder and everything was hard / She felt the same, myself to blame, now I’m buried in the yard / Grass it grows around me, the flowers she tore out / My one last time to save you, so I’m going to scream and shout.) A three-piece horn section is featured on “Old City Jail,” a tune that was inspired by the haunted Old Charleston Jail in South Carolina. (We’re on the hard run, nothing stops the sounds / Down in the old city jail left with the cold hounds / Gamblers that came ’round before folks like you or I got caught in the rails.)

The CD kicks off with the intriguing seven-part instrumental, “Ice Jam.” Shier explains, “It has many sections that evolve over the course of the tune, change key centers, and do not repeat. The song is not actually very ‘jam’ influenced in a musical sense, but supposed to instrumentally represent an actual ice jam occurring on northern river, fall to winter to spring.” Get to know the Unseen Strangers, the 2013 winners of the DelFest band competition. They have music that engages all the senses and leaves listeners longing for more. (

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