The Burnett Sisters from Boone, North Carolina are not easy to categorize in terms of a genre. Everything they do is within the acoustic realm of course, but it ranges from bluegrass and western swing, to gospel and even old-time fiddle tunes. The group’s latest project Timeless, is a great reflection of their artistic variety.
The project starts off with two bluegrass oriented tracks. Greenback Dollar showcases the tight vocal harmony that Kathleen Ray and her sisters, Anissa and Anneli Burnett possess. Blue Night is a standard that’s been performed by everyone from Bill Monroe to Hot Rize. The Burnetts’ rendition of the song is well executed and built around Anneli’s smooth lead vocals and tasteful mandolin picking.
All In God’s Plan is one of two gospel numbers on this release, both of which feature Kathleen’s husband, Colin Ray, on lead vocals. Colin’s performance on this particular track delivers the message of the song effectively. The group is complemented by Jon Gardner on drums, who is also featured on Jesus Is Living In Me.
Draggin’ The Bow and It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie are both western swing flavored. The former piece is a rousing instrumental which displays the talents of sisters Anissa Burnett on fiddle, Kathleen on guitar, Sophia on bass, Anneli on mandolin, as well as Colin Ray on guitar and Brady Wallen on banjo. The latter track is another wonderful example of the close knit vocal harmony most commonly heard amongst musical families.
While most of the material on Timeless comes from the traditional canon, two tracks are original pieces. Lizard On A Leash is an instrumental written by Nate Leath. It’s a nice bluegrass tune that again captures the Burnett Sisters Band’s talents as pickers as well as singers.
Ballad Of A Lucky Rambler was written by Jacob Metz and is performed as a duet with Kathleen and her husband, Colin. While I myself am not particularly fond of sweet and sappy songs on traditionally oriented recordings, this one was actually quite enjoyable.
Appalachian Set is an old-time medley which contains the tunes Sugar In The Gourd, Mike In The Wilderness, and Chinquapin Hunting. As much as I enjoyed the fiddling and the dancing of the Burnett Sisters on this track, I would’ve loved to have heard more of Anissa’s clawhammer banjo playing. It’s evident that she’s skilled in this particular style. Unfortunately it’s only utilized for a short section of this medley.
Timeless is a great recording. It’s evidence of the Burnett Sisters Band’s virtuosity within different styles of acoustic music. While many of these songs have been performed by numerous artists over several decades, the Burnett Sisters present them in a way that gives these pieces new life, and proves that they are indeed timeless.