Valerie Smith: Blame It On The Bluegrass

by Peter Dowley

Recorded at and presented by the International Blue Grass Music Museum, Owensboro, KY

This six song CD has excellent vocals and musicianship throughout. A confession: this is my first review and I am neither a musicologist nor an instrumentalist. What I have done best musically is sing – so my approach is to listen for a song that I want to learn so that I can sing along. Valerie has an excellent sampler of her abilities and an accomplished group of fellow musicians backing her on this CD. I wish I knew the back story to this CD – what is the Museum’s role here, and do these cuts represent a showcase of things she is great at or are they attempts to do some new things musically? In any event, enjoy!

“Slow Healing Heart

1) “Blame It On The Bluegrass” – title cut; fast paced cute tune; hard-driving singing, great mandolin, violin dancing in support throughout, plus nice vocal harmonies: The song uses the idea that the instruments and melodies of bluegrass are the cause of a young girl being enticed away from more serious pursuits and from growing more, personally, responsible. Not my favorite idea for a song but then again, twenty-somethings are as entitled to learn from the “school of hard knocks” as we old timers, in the crowd, did.

2) “Where The Sun Never Shines” – up tempo, strong mandolin role, dancing violin solo: The title line is designed to catch your attention and the next line is to immediately turn your thoughts in a different direction. It’s not aimed at the person causing the singer’s distress; rather, it’s what the singer is going to do to get the hurt to go away.

3) “Slow Healing Heart” – a bluesy waltz: The words grow on you with excellent vocalization, nice mandolin support, alternatively picking and strumming. Emotionally, this is the most powerful tune in the set of six.

4) “Four Leaf Clover” – up tempo lament: The vocals are more spoken or chanted than sung with a nice violin solo and violin-mandolin duet. When all your good luck charms fail and life gets hard, tie a knot in the end of the rope and hang on – as the song says, maybe someone will ‘turn your horseshoe over.’

5) “A Good Day, Lord” – moderate tempo: This is a contemporary, non-denominational spiritual with good violin, guitar, and mandolin solos. It’s about a believer appreciating the blessings he or she has.

6) “No Vacancy” – up tempo – This is also a contemporary, non-denominational spiritual that features a pleasing group of vocals with nice violin accompaniment. Life is a continuous search for a better chance – but no luck so far.

Belt Buckle Records


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