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Brighter Every Day is the second album from Trout Steak Revival, a quintet from Colorado. Produced by Chris Pandolfi (Infamous Stringdusters), the recording is a clean and polished collection of ten songs and one instrumental (all originals). They seem to be striving for a sound that fits comfortably within the traditional bluegrass instrumentation and style, content to let their body of songs carve out their own niche.

It’s an admirable approach, and the thematic inspiration they derive from the external and internal landscapes through which they travel are legitimate grist for the creative mill. However, after a reasonably strong start to the album on “Union Pacific” and “Get A Fire Going,” the songs begin to take on a certain sameness without a real sparkling gem to catch one’s ear. Cuts like the novelty song “Pie” and the closing track “Colorado River” have energy, and Pandolfi and the band have done some nice arranging work to maximize the individual and collective strengths of the band.

Vocally, the band has a very nice blend. All five members sing, although unfortunately, the CD follows a modern trend to not identify who sings lead on which track. It’s evident that fiddler Bevin Foley takes on a refreshing front role on singing the bluesy “Go On,” and her boosted harmony vocal on “Colorado River” also brings a new aural spice to the overall sound of the band. Instrumentally, banjoist Travis McNamara has the strongest bluegrass chops, not flashy but rock-solid and interesting, so there’s no suffering by comparison when Pandolfi sits in on the instrumental “Sierra Nevada.” Steve Foltz’s mandolin and Foley’s fiddling are an interesting contrast, as the former plays in a more restrained way that plays to his strengths, whereas Foley’s fiddling is edgier and comes off more like a car taking a mountain curve on two wheels.

So kudos to Trout Steak Revival for taking the original material path. Their singing is fine, and they don’t seem to be trying to be dazzlers instrumentally, so here’s hoping that this recording lets them expand their following, and buys them some time to continue developing as songwriters. (

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