BREAKING GRASS, JUST AS STRONG
Mountain Fever Records
When I reviewed the second Breaking Grass CD a couple of years ago, I was overwhelmed by a song called “Strings.” Though it didn’t generate the national response it deserved, it is still one of the best songs of the last ten years. Nothing here packs that kind of punch. The closest is the melancholy, Americana and pop-colored piece, “Fly (Amber’s Song).” For it, guitarist Cody Farrar has penned a set of verses deep in emotion and vivid imagery, verses that give way to a wonderful chorus full of long, held notes and shifting harmonies. The longer you listen, the more it impresses. It’s an exceptional song.
“Strings” aside, however, this third album is just as strong and is very much equal with the high-quality musicianship and variety of their previous recording. Farrar remains the principle tunesmith, writing 11 of the 12 tracks and co-authoring the 12th with the band. He’s at his best, as is the band, when drawing on outside influences (rock, pop, and country, etc.) creating songs with ear-catching melodies, rhythms, and forms. His straighter bluegrass tunes, such as the gospel “Where Peace Cannot Be Found” and “High On The Mountain,” are solid enough, but his fast opener, “Raining In Virginia,” with its arrangement complexities and its intriguing verse melody or the funkiness of “Whatever You Need” go them two steps better. The joyful honky-tonk of “Beating The Blues” and the intricate instrumental twinning of the jazzy figures that makes “Digging Up Georgia” instantly compelling are not far off if at all. Combining those four together with the exceptional beauty of “Fly” puts this recording on a par with their previous work. In short, a very good recording. (Mountain Fever Records, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd., Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.)BW