In case you haven't noticed, this is a golden age of bluegrass. The genre has enjoyed a resurgence over the past number of years, thanks partially to the mass popularity of the soundtrack to "O Brother, Where Art Thou", but mostly because excellent bluegrass bands are coming out of the woodwork lately. Lonesome River Band's No Turning Back really caught my ear and the Dixie Bee-Liners' Ripe completely floored me (though they step a ways beyond bluegrass), and then there is Jett's Creek.
Fronted by Angie Young, whose voice lies somewhere south of Alison Krauss and north of Dale Ann Bradley, Jett's Creek exhales all that is good in modern bluegrass. You can hear the mountains in their music, and Nashville as well, and the combination makes them not only accessible to those not into country music, but to those who are. Influences grab them by the song rather than defining their sound and that makes Supposed To Be the really fine album that it is.
The real strength of the album lies in the choice of songs. They only provide four originals, which might be a deathtrap for others, but they provide us with the best of everything outside of Jett's Creek: Rodney Crowell's A Song For Life, a beautiful country ballad presented with a George Jones tone to the harmonies; Dan Seals' God Must Be a Cowboy at Heart, plucked (and very well, indeed) from a deep songbook of Seals classics; the bluegrass gospel song When God Dips His Pen of Love In My Heart, borrowed from Cleavant Derricks; the harmonically and stellar I'll Be Back, a nod to Buddy Cannon, Marla Cannon Goodman and Ronnie Bowman. And let us not forget the fifties' style Lester Flatt tune, Why Don't You Tell Me So.
This is a great cross-section of what makes roots roots and Jett's Creek pulls it off like real pros. When they blend voices on slow mournful songs, it is a lonesome train whistle from across a valley. When they rock the cradle, it rocks. When it's time to play—well, they come to play. And the topnotch musicianship is matched by harmonies worthy of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and the Seldom Scene. And while we're at it, let's give a pat on the back to Evan McGregor, who had the sense to let Jett's Creek be Jett's Creek, honest and simple, his dials twisting to capture and not alter the sound.
There has to be somewhere on the Net (try Jett's Creek's website) where you can sample some of this album. If you lean toward the vocal side of bluegrass, a sample might just lead toward a new addition to your collection. And more than likely have you wondering when their next album will be released.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Website design by David N. Pyles