THE INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS
THINGS THAT FLY
Sugar Hill 4059
On their third outing, the Infamous Stringdusters have released, by far, their richest and most musically satisfying CD. Covering a broad, cinematic sweep of themes and emotions ranging from poverty, death and loss, finding true love and following the true path in life, the band displays a mesmerizing blend of great songwriting, wonderful singing, and highly creative musical arrangement. Over 13 gorgeous tracks crafted with expert care by the band and coproducer Gary Pacoza, Things That Fly reveals a band at the height of its creative powers, able to blend such disparate influences as Irish rockers U2 on “In God’s Country” with the straight from the still bluegrass sensibilities of Jody Stecher’s classic “17 Cents,” all the while making it seem natural and unaffected.
In a recent interview, mandolinist Jesse Cobb said the band’s goal with this project was to create a sweeping statement that freed them from previous stylistic boundaries, and that’s just what they’ve achieved here. It won’t please hard-core traditionalists; the band lacks a clear vocal identity, with multiple vocalists taking turns as the lead voice. Lovers of classic bluegrass lead and harmony singing won’t find much here to enjoy. And the production here is often drenched in reverb, such as the coda of “You Can’t Stop The Changes,” or adds keyboards or even some percussion to certain tracks to emphasize the rock influenced rhythms.
But perhaps no modern bluegrass band is more skilled in crafting catchy, progressive bluegrass songs that deliver memorable melodies and powerful lyrics. Just listen to originals such as “Those Who’ve Gone On,” “All The Same,” “Taking A Chance On The Truth,” or “It’ll Be Alright” to hear what classic modern bluegrass should sound like. The ’Dusters are the cutting edge of progressive bluegrass these days, creative and inventive without straying so far over the line that their music cannot stand alongside previous innovators in the genre. It’s not for everyone, but audiences willing to accept the creative power and unique voice of the band will find Things That Fly enormously rewarding. This is a band bursting with creative ideas, creating instant classic modern tunes and arrangements that push forward the boundaries of bluegrass and progressive acoustic music. Highly recommended. (Sugar Hill Records, P.O. 120897,
Nashville, TN 37212, www.sugarhillrecords.com.) DJM