Though he's uncomfortable being widely regarded and respected as leader of the 'New Grass' movement, and his resume of live appearances and session work (Emmylou, Dolly, Steve Earle, Lyle, and Alisson, just to drop a few) Bush has held the title deservedly so for some time. Yet, even with that said, there's an odd predictably in the first few tracks of Laps… that at first threaten to sink the whole enterprise.
Even with her hubby Buddy's singular atmospheric guitar and an Emmylou duet ( I love you to death Emmy and I know Sam's a dear old friend, but these featured Emmylou Harris duets on just about every other CD out there is starting to make for formulaic thinking) the opener – Julie Miller's The River's Gonna Run is still a rather run-of-the-mill song. So too the high speed new grass gallops Bringing In The Georgia Mail and Ridin' That Bluegrass Train. Even the quirky 5/4 timing of John Hartford's On The Road' doesn't take away that the fact it's another musician on the road song.
Then, just as I caught myself wondering if this disc was ever gonna catch a fire, you can feel the energy rise on the funky I Wanna Do Right with its Little Feat groove and vocal by da Feat's own blues lady Shaun Murphy. Then comes the electric country of Robbie Fulk's Where There's A Road, immediately followed by the sizzling Celtic exuberance of Jean Luc Ponty's New Country – a blazing, tight-as-a-banjo-string fiddle duet with Bush and the song's composer. For more fiddle fire, listen to Andrea Zonn go bow to bow with Sam on It's A Beautiful Day's late Sixties classic White Bird. Still another standout is the Allman-ish arrangement of Darrel Scott's River Take Me.
Bush's band is one hell of band with drummer Chris Brown, bassist Byron House, the ever present and remarkable Scott Vestal on banjo, and guitarist Keith Sewell veering into country and rock at every turn of Bush's sure handed wheel. Yes, Laps In Seven starts out slow, but it certainly doesn't end that way.
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