Wednesday, August 5, 2015

CD Review - The Stetson Family - TRUE NORTH

Image635743572845620180The Stetson Family are a band based in Australia, and it should be said that in spite of their name, they are not a 'family band' in the sense that we usually understand, but through their music, they are indeed a family in the sense of unity of purpose.

It's probably also only fair to say that they are not hardcore Bluegrass either, at least in the way we understand the term today, but this is quality stuff none-the-less. I think 'folk' might be a more honest description, though they do tackle a 'grass classic in the Stanleys', "How Mountain Girls Can Love", and a Dylan outlaw song, "Billy".

But it's with their originals that this band shines. "Every Second Beat of My Heart", "Run Daddy Run", "Let It Ride" and "Lover Where You Going", all composed by members of the band, are all songs that have the potential to become classics, and I would not be surprised to see at least some of these being included in the sets of other performers.

Vocally, The Stetson Family rely on two and three part harmonies, with many of the leads taken by Nadine Budge with her distinct voice, who also plays a tasty dobro on many of the tracks.

For my own personal taste, the Banjo, played by Colin Swan, in both Scruggs-style and clawhammer, is a little bit low in the overall mix, but that's a minor gripe, and perhaps in future recordings, Colin will step a little closer to the mike?

John Bartholomeusz handles the lead vocals, and plays solid flatpick guitar, Andrew Carswell is tasty and sparse on the mandolin, and Luke Richardson provides solid bass throughout.

Overall, this is another fine example of original songs from a band who don't come from the traditional homeland of Bluegrass, but who do a darn good job of representing the kind of high quality material from outside the U.S., which makes a very respectable contribution to the genre.

-Niall Toner, August 3, 2015, IRELAND

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