THE LONELY HEARTSTRING BAND
This is the debut release from the 2015 IBMA winners of the Momentum Award. Four of the five members of the band—Charles Clements (bass & vocals), his twin brother George Clements (guitar & lead vocals), Gabe Hirshfeld (banjo), Patrick M’Gonigle (fiddle, vocals), and Matt Witler (mandolin)—met while students at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Starting as a pick-up band, LHB merges its sound from the members’ individual influences in traditional bluegrass, American folk music, classic country, and western classical tradition. “I think we’re committed to drawing on our musical roots to create something new, something that’s moving forward,” explains Hirshfeld.
Modern bluegrass is featured on Deep Waters’ title-track and “The Road’s Salvation.” The Boston-based quintet puts its unique spin on Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” Bob Dylan’s “Rambling, Gambling Willie,” and Pete Seeger’s “If I Had A Hammer.” LHB also created a couple of playful instrumentals, “Big Bruce” and “Songbird.” Banjo wizard Tony Trischka provides plenty of praise in the CD liner notes and a cut-by-cut critique of each of the 12 songs. He says, “It took forever to assimilate this whole masterpiece, because I had to keep doubling back to listen and re-listen to particular passages that wouldn’t let me just aurally walk on by.” Like Tony, I’m drawn to keep the CD in the player to catch the different layers of musical depths displayed on this first effort. Topnotch instrumentation and a beautiful vocal blend are the cursory reasons to begin forming an allegiance to this band. Their music is addicting, and just like viewing the Grand Canyon, you can’t begin to find the words to describe the wonder witnessed. (Rounder Records, 1 Rounder Way, Burlington, MA 01803, www.rounder.com.)BC