The first take on this album is that, in all the best ways, this is not bluegrass.
Bluegrass and country both come from the same roots; you can call this old-time, folk, traditional, or any other of a number of names, but really great music doesn’t require labels.
Stripping music down to it’s basic sound and going back to the roots is a great way to find out just how strong the music really is. Jesse and Emily strip things down to just a guitar and fiddle. There’s some mighty fine guitar picking going on, but I have to confess I’m partial to the fiddle. So when you throw in some Celtic fiddle influences, some mountain music vibes, some nods to old country music, and plenty of roots, things just keep getting better and stronger.
But where this duo really shines is in their vocals. And their harmonies? They’re truly greater than the sum of their parts, and at times evoke the Carter Family and other old country voices. Smack in the middle of the album is the traditional “Undone In Sorrow” followed by a traditional-sounding a capella original “Hiram Herbert” and, while the whole album is strong, having these two back-to-back is certainly a tour d’force. The album also features a very traditional and stunning take on “Gambling Man” and it says much for this duo’s skills that one actually has to go searching to figure out just which tunes have a long history and which ones are originals and/or contemporary.
“Undone In Sorrow”
Here’s where we can let you in on a secret – Deep End is a California ranch specializing in hosting old-time and traditional music, so you can look forward to more albums sampling this tasty vein, just search on Deep End Sessions. Since this is only Volume 2 here’s hoping there are many more to come!