Cindy West has one of those rich, compelling voices that almost single-handedly can lift a band into the upper echelons of bluegrass performance. After performing for two decades from the early ’70s to the early ’90s, and then taking substantial time off for other pursuits, West and the rest of the group are back performing and recording, and the results are more than satisfactory.
Bandmembers on this release include West on vocals, Earl West (bass), Clyde Bailey (banjo, vocals), Bobby Thompson (guitar), Tim Peade (mandolin, vocals), and guest Scott Freeman on fiddle. The group features exceptional harmony to augment Cindy’s vocals, and the result is an overall vocal sound that’s as good as any you will ever hear. And that served as an inspiration for any number of emerging bands back in the ’70s and ’80s, particularly in and around the Old Dominion. The instrumental work here is also very solid and rounds out the sound nicely, with notable work by Bailey on the banjo and Freeman on the fiddle.
Highlights of this new release are an excellent driving version of the McReynolds’ “Hard Hearted,” Randall Hylton’s “I Hope My Lord Will Let Me In,” a very soulful “Ocean Of Diamonds,” and “Coat Of Many Colors.” “Sweethearts Again,” Monroe’s “Stay Away From Me,” “Old Southern Cotton Town,” and Bobby Osborne’s “Windy City” also stand out here. There are no weak cuts among the 12 tracks. The distinctive sound of this band, with its smooth but powerful vocal stylings, strong instrumental work (and also very good timing!) should be pleasing to a wide range of those who enjoy bluegrass, but especially those who were around for the great resurgence of the music and the festivals in the 1970s, where this group exerted substantial influence. (www.appalachianexpressbluegrassccva.com)AW