Bluegrass Unlimited - New County Grass - Start The Whole Thing OverNEW COUNTY GRASS
Old Homestead Records

From up in Flint, Mich., comes New County Grass, a four-piece band that shows much skill and energy as it looks to the bluegrass music from the late 1970s on back for its inspiration and material. Of the 12 songs on their debut recording, only “Start The Whole Thing Over,” written by banjoist Dean DuBois, is an original. The balance includes such standards as “Sweetheart You’ve Done Me Wrong,” “Someone Took My Place With You,” “Lonesome Feeling,” and “Where We’ll Never Grow Old,” but also several tunes you won’t hear too many other places, Jimmie Skinner’s “I’m Afraid To Love You Anymore,” and Red Allen’s “You Will Always Be Untrue” and Byron Berline’s instrumental “Hot Burrito Breakdown.”

All those, indeed all the songs here, are done well. The lead singing is pretty good, the harmonies better. Instrumentally, the star of the recording is guitarist Kyle Estep. DuBois and mandolinist Duane Estep play well all through and around, and Brent Estep keeps a firm rhythm, but it is Kyle Estep who contributes the most impressive solos, particularly the way in which he keeps his ideas flowing from one line to the next.

What keeps this from being more than an average-to-good recording, however, is that there are a few too many standards done too familiarly. For every “You Will Always Be Untrue,” there are two or three oft-recorded songs in need of the band’s own personal stamp. That ratio is fine if you’re making a recording for fans to remember your show, but more is needed to go farther and attract a wider audience. The key change they use at the end of “Someone Took My Place With You” is a start. It’s not all that original, but it does set their version apart from the original. More of that and a better ratio of original or more obscure material would have shown this talented band to better advantage. (Old Homestead Records, P.O. Box 100, Brighton, MI 48116, BW