New CD releases have been few and far between this past few months. The labels tend to hold off on new projects after October, fearing that they could get lost in the holiday shuffle. Now that the new year is upon us, the list of new releases is quite impressive, and we’ll have reports/reviews on a good many projects for the next couple of weeks.
This CD has been “sort of” released for a few months. Though its official street date is tomorrow (1/13/09), Pinecastle shipped it to radio in late October of last year and had copies available for sale through the Music Shed over the holidays. The CD has already showed up in the Top Albums chart for XM and Sirius satellite radio, so you may have heard some cuts already.
There is so much to like about this project. Kristin’s banjo playing is crisp, clean and note-perfect throughout. The song choices – including four new instrumentals of hers – show her skill as a producer, arranger and composer for the banjo. The opening track, Kristin’s Don’t Tread On Me, and Bill Emerson’s No Steering, No Brakes have her tearing up the five bluegrass-style, while her arrangements of Sandy River Belle and Greencastle Hornpipe indicate her facility bringing old time and Celtic tunes into the bluegrass realm.
The vocal numbers mixed among the instrumentals are appropriate to the general feel of the CD, and all feature vocalists with whom Kristin has worked over the years. No Southern Comfort, sung by Josh Williams, is a real standout, as is Imagine That, sung in close duet harmony by Sally Jones and Mickey Harris.
As if all that wasn’t sufficient reason to recommend this recording, it also has guitar wizard David Grier featured on six of twelve tracks, and boy does he shine. David performs primarily in a solo setting these days, and what a treat to hear him in a bluegrass setting.
All of the pickers and singers provide first rate performances. Jim Van Cleve and Shad Cobb play fiddle, Andy Todd and Mickey Harris are on bass, Cody Kilby also plays guitar, and Kristin’s husband Wayne Benson is on mandolin.
With tomorrow’s wide release, you should be able to find Second Season wherever you shop for bluegrass recordings, both on compact disc and via digital download.