Along about the seventh track, NuBlu hits a foursong run that lifts this album to a higher level. Until that point, the music is pleasant but ordinary, though not without its moments.
One of those moments is on Nanci Griffith’s “Spin On A Red Brick Floor,” a light, airy tune with a bouyant pulse. Griffith is a master of tuneful, conversational lyricwriting, and this one shows that well. Hearing the words was a little difficult, as lead singer/bassist Carolyn Routh’s voice was mixed a bit too far into the instrumental backing, but on a whole this is the best song on the CD. “How Do I Move On,” written by Routh and her singer/guitarist husband Daniel, is another good moment.
That’s two out of six. The other four in the first-half are as stated before—pleasant but ordinary. Fortunately, “In And Out Of Love,” “River Of Love,” “Red Haired Boy,” and “Old Black Suit” follow in short order. “In And Out…” (also by the Rouths) provides lyricism and pulse almost equal to Griffith’s. Then follows the positive message of “River…” and its revival feel, layed over an oldtime dance beat. This leads nicely to “Red Haired Boy.” You’d think there’d be little that could make this old standard fresh, but mandolinist Kendall Gales and banjoist Levi Austin find new twists that revamp the melody. The foursong run ends with a gently lilting review of a marriage that an everpresent “Old Black Suit” witnesses: Life and death has touched that old black suit. Such a wonderful image.
This is the debut release and a solid first effort for the North Carolinabased NuBlu. (Nu-Blu Bluegrass Artists, P.O. Box 681, Siler City, NC 27344, www.nublu.com.) BW