Tuesday, May 22, 2012

CD REVIEW - Scenic Roots - Grounded

By Dan King

Scenic Roots - Grounded

Scenic Roots Music  LLC

As a reviewer for Prescription Bluegrass, I receive many album submissions from independent artists hoping to get a favorable review published on their work. Many of them contain admirable efforts, but in the final analysis, fall short.

When I first removed Scenic Roots’ CD “Grounded” from its shipping envelope, I could tell it was going to be different. The CD is very attractively packaged. The case opens into a tri-fold display of information and beautifully laid out graphics.  This is a major league presentation.

I put the music on and the first thing that struck me was Amber Rogers’ voice.  She has a real star quality to her voice, somewhat reminiscent of The Dixie Chicks Natalie Maines. It has a pure innocence to it that makes it instantly accessible and likeable.

In addition to her singing chores in the duo, Amber adds fiddle, banjo, and mandolin.

Amber’s sister Erin is a National Champion Mountain Dulcimer player, the youngest to ever win that competition at 17 way back in 2004. Erin plays some of the sweetest dulcimer you will ever hear at any level.

Together the two sisters make up Scenic Roots.  With the help of session players Levi Austin and Daniel Routh, the two make some of the most heartfelt music I have ever heard. They weave their way through ten tunes, mostly standards like “Molly and Tenbrooks” and “Salt Creek,” add a couple of tunes written by contemporaries of theirs, and throw in a Keith Whitley tune and a Wendy Waldman tune for a nice mix.

This music has soul, tradition, and authenticity, and sounds like something you might hear on someone’s back porch up in the mountains. The instrumental “Jenny’s Chicken” features Amber’s fiddle and it is so Celtic, I swear five leprechauns jumped out of my speakers and painted my entire office green before the track ended! On “Molly and Tenbrooks,”  Amber sings harmony with herself, (a neat studio trick) and it sounds amazing. When Erin begins the intro to “You Plant Your Fields” on her dulcimer, the mood is instantly transformed into a peaceful serene, healing state. Erin Rogers actually beat Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a few years back and it’s a sure bet that her music played a big part in that victory.

This is the real deal. These two ladies make beautiful music that is obviously inspired by their faith.   The album is not without technical flaws. For example, some of the fiddle parts are out of tune to varying degrees, but I have heard many technically perfect studio albums that are completely devoid of soul. I’ll take a little bit of human fallibility accompanied by human tenderness and positive energy over a slick robotic performance any day of the week.

In addition to being an extremely enjoyable album with top notch packaging, Scenic Roots has a website that puts the pros to shame. If any of you aspiring acts need help with your websites, I would strongly urge you to check www.scenicroots.com and see what you’re shooting for. You can purchase this CD on the site, and the webmaster is listed on the links page.

This CD is really what music is all about. The Rogers sisters play it and sing it like they don’t need the money. They are driven by a more honest inspiration, their faith, and their love of the music. 

No pretention here or jaded big-timeyness. I highly recommend this CD if you are into authentic music that lifts your soul. I am giving this effort 4 and a half banjo strings and my personal seal of approval.


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