It's damnably hard to one-up the Pinecastle label when it comes to bluegrass, and Dave Parmley & The Continental Divide pretty much make my argument, as top-notch as any other band on the estimable roster. A trio with guests on fiddle and bass, they carry on with vocals, guitar, banjo, and mandolin, the listener never noticing there's not a single drumhead in the entire 12-cut menu, so encompassing is the sound.
Great 'grass always has that bounce, swing, and yee-haw energy that no true American, no son or daughter of the sod, can resist…nor wants to. There are Jesus songs here (Meadow on the Mountain, with Rhonda Vincent on backing vocals), giddy-up rail-line kickers (Pete Seeger's Winsborough Cotton Mill Blues), melodic trot-alongs (Carolina Rain, written by mandolinist Ron Spears), and all manner of ol' sonic friends and neighbors popping up track to track. Parmley keeps that highly pleasant voice of his out in front of it all, Dale Perry and Spears chiming in behind and alongside, harmonizing
In fact, though Spears wrote only two songs here, he should be encouraged to toss in more next time around, as the guy possesses a light, propulsive, positive, and smooth compositional hand, his cuts among the best of a clearly superior disc. Continental Divide is an ensemble that deserves high caliber compositions like his in order to more clearly make the mark it richly deserves. Knock his Carolina Rain up against their killer take on Tom T. Hall's title cut and you'll see what I mean (it also has a bit of the old prime Marshall Tucker to it as well). What can I say? It's Dave Parmley, it's Continental Divide, and it's Pinecastle, so ya know it's damned good.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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