Delores The Taurus Records
Of the instrumental skills exhibited on the debut recording by this New England-based quintet, there can be no doubt. All five of them—guitarist Evan Murphy, fiddler Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, banjoist Catherine Bowness, mandolinist David Benedict, and bassist Nate Sabat—have their technique firmly at hand and exciting moments pop up quite often throughout the album. Given their young age and already advanced playing, it will be interesting to see where their skills take them. The vocals are more of a work in progress. As is often the case, instrumental skills often improve more rapidly than vocals, and while there is nothing really poor here, the lead deliveries are a bit stiff and undefined. Time and repetition may improve that.
That brings us to the music, a mixture of traditional and contemporary bluegrass and Americana styles. There are twelve tracks, ten of them originals. It would be nice to say that there’s a good bit of memorable music here, but that’s not quite the case. The tune that most captures my attention is Geoff Bartley’s “Sunny Side Of Town.” It’s gritty and bluesy in a Monroe kind of way. Of the band originals, only a few reach that level. The country strut of “The Day You Left” is one of them. Not far off are “Soldiers And Sailors” (a portrait of living in New York), the swingy, female vocal duet of “You Don’t Even Know It Yet,” and the fast-paced “Settle Down Blues.” A nod must also go to the interesting rhythmic timing of the chorus to “Onwards” and to the arrangement of “In The Shade.” Mile Twelve is a band that shows well developed instrumental skill and flashes of great potential. (www.miletwelvebluegrass.com)BW