Friday, February 28, 2014

Prescription Bluegrass Reviews STEEP RAVINE - "Trampin' On"


The San Francisco based acoustic quartet Steep Ravine recently released their debut CD project, Trampin’ On, which features eleven original cuts, including two instrumentals.

There’s not much in the way of traditional or non-traditional Bluegrass music here: not a single banjo note on the entire project and only on rare occasion does the tempo exceed slow to medium.

However, their level of instrumental mastery, combined with fine vocals and spot-on arrangements will appeal to all but the saltiest Bluegrass purists.

With their collective ear for tasteful note and song choices, thoughtful and expressive lyrics and even some deep, solid groove on songs like The White Mare, there’s not much more you could expect from a relatively new group.


"The material is fresh, the art is good and the music is rich.  What’s not to like?"

-Mark Raborn, Prescription Bluegrass


Alex Bice’s bass work is ‘right on’ and Simon Linsteadt offers up strong guitar leads, including intros on several cuts, as does Andy O’Brien on mandolin, whose strong chop brings home the ‘drive,’ even without a pesky five-string around.

The opening cut, Prairie Rose, begins with a solid Bluegrass-fiddle intro by Jan Purat, only to be guided down a path toward more ‘swingy/bluesy’ feeling material on subsequent cuts like Wooden Floors and The Waiting Blues. That said, quite a few of the cuts on Trampin’ On could easily be adapted and covered as Bluegrass and/or Newgrass material.

Probably, my personal favorites are Wildflower Honey and Lazy Tide, the latter consisting of somewhat more production effects than the rest. Both have clever phrasing and addicting melodies that could become favorites for evolving Bluegrass and Acoustic groups.

Actually, there isn’t a bad cut on the project and I have enjoyed listening to it again and again. All eleven cuts are mixed and mastered to the hilt resulting in a production quality as good as I’ve heard.

Steep Ravine is a group that is able to harness its’ many attributes and produce a project they should be proud of. In the opinion of your humble reviewer, I believe most people that purchase this CD will be pleasantly surprised. The material is fresh, the art is good and the music is rich. What’s not to like?

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