This review of One Song at a Time comes from Annie Savage, fiddler/vocalist with The Savage Hearts, educator and clinician, and PhD candidate at the University of Iowa. Look for her and the Hearts at World Of Bluegrass 2017 where they are an invited showcase act.
“The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest of virtues.”
Barbara Jo Kammer has long been celebrated by the Front Range as one of the finest and strongest vocalists in the area. In her work with the Hippie Buckaroos, she has provided weekly nursing home outreach and music therapy along with entertaining and creating a healthy following of listeners throughout the region. She has not only been a great entertainer, but a colorful presence, bringing great joy and clarity to many peoples’ lives through her powerful blend of country and bluegrass music.
She recently marked 10 years of recovery and that milestone has simultaneously brought her musical offering to a staggering place. Her debut album entitled, One Song at a Time, is nothing short of the kinds of miracles that are promised every day in the same kinds of programs that Barbara Jo touts as a huge part of her success. Bringing together the musical prowess of Colorado favorite KC Groves in Aaron Youngberg’s ever-increasingly celebrated Swingfingers Studio, this album will awaken surrender in even the most hardened liver. Her rendering of George Jones’ Choices would, in the words of her singing partner on some of the tracks Greg Blake, “bring a tear to a glass eye.” It is not for the weak of heart, and the turnaround of gender in the track is especially gratifying. The cover of Kate Wolfe’s Medicine Wheel is electrifying. Great instrumental work on behalf of the all star cast including Tyler Grant, Sally Van Meter, Damon Smith, Erin Youngberg, Jake Simpson, Andy Dunnigan, Greg Blake and Mollie O’Brien makes this an exquisite snapshot into our Colorado music scene. I was especially blown away by Elephant Revival member Charlie Rose’s pedal steel and banjo work on the album.
In general, this is one of the best albums to come out of Colorado’s bluegrass and country scene in many years. It certainly proves the exponential power of having a great team of artists pull together in support of someone like Barbara Jo, who not only sings with the level of accuracy that you might find in Linda Ronstadt’s finest moments, but has been herself a champion of pulling together for the greater good. This is a karma album and the level of honesty and musical excellence is very real.
Barbara Jo, KC Groves, Aaron Youngberg and Swingfingers Studio, and the host of Front Range glitterati that participated in this album have produced a world class album for an artist who has long been deserving of national recognition. Barbara Jo is a shining light to all those who seek to create great art through clarity and honesty. This is a special album made possible by a seriously notable cast of characters.
One Song at a Time is due out officially in September. You can buy the album, read more about Barbara Jo and become more familiar with her work at barbarajokammer.com.