CIRCA BLUE, ONCE UPON A TIME
Orange Blossom Records
Readers of these pages may well be aware, I always gravitate to a swinging, country/jazz type song. There’s a good one here on Circa Blue’s third release—their first on Orange Blossom Records. The song is called “Tripped, Stumbled And Fell,” written by Dawn Kenny and Rick Lang, and features the lead singing of new bassist Ashley Stewart and some close harmony from new fiddler Malia Furtado on the chorus. The beat is solid. The solos are good. The additional staggered vocal echo of the title on the chorus by one of the men in the group is a nice touch. That’s followed by a slightly laid-back cover of the Juice Newton hit, “Queen Of Hearts,” and makes for a solid one-two-punch late in the album.
The band makes a good impression with the quick-paced “Before You Leave Here,” and back-to-back fiddle tunes—“Angeline The Baker” performed with lyrics and “Cold Frosty Morning,” featuring a triple lead of mandolin, clawhammer banjo, and fiddle. The triple lead is very impressive and gives way to some fine soloing that exhibits the tune rather straight at first, but lets each player put a bit of spin on it in the second half. Circa Blue’s attention to such detail is evident throughout the whole recording.
There have been several personnel changes in the group since their 2014 release. Joining holdover guitarist Steve Harris and banjoist Matt Hickman are mandolinist Garrett Wren and the aforementioned Furtado and Stewart. That much turnover makes for an obvious change in the band’s sound, but it’s a change that, as this recording shows, has attracted label recognition and brought positive results. (www.circa-blue.com)BW