When this klatsch of front-porch whizbang fretbenders dub themselves a string band, they ain't foolin' around, Lemuel. Strings are all you get here—violin, viola, guitar, bass, and mandolin, other than vocals—but what a sound these seasoned pickers manage to wring from 'em! Each is a long-accustomed hand, and the quartet falls together like a band of brothers tuned in to the nuances of each and every member. This, however, doesn't invoke hightoned seriousness, as the gents are capable of more than a little wit and humor.
Paul Rippee's violin playing frequently reminds of Michael Dreyfuss' in the 70s band McKendree Spring, and the rest of the gents hark into Dan Hicks, David Grisman, trad bluegrass, newgrass, N'Orleans swing, and street jazz as well as more than a few tangs of true troubadour refrains and Elizabethan airs (listen to the instrumental Gallivant). My favorite cut is Rita, an exceedingly clever song telling an O. Henry story that caught even me, an English Lit tutor, by surprise. The track drips with irony and foreboding well fulfilled in the final stanza.
Some of the vocals here are the sole flaw to Over the Sunset, and not always the perfect complement the playing might deserve but warm nonetheless, the refrains of a next-door neighbor instead of a Mario Lanza. They account for my introductory 'front porch' tag amid an otherwise county-fair festive quality. Because there's a frequent jug flavor, this isn't a deficit, one expects it, and more than a few cuts even sound trad—tip an ear to another instrumental, Waiting on a Waiter, and see what I mean—yet every tune was written by the band. A very good rave-up, Over the Sunset satisfies in many ways.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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