The Be Good Tanyas
First Appeared at The Music Box, June 2002, Volume 9, #6
Written by John Metzger
When a band strikes gold with a particular formula, itís not unusual for countless other ensembles to try their hand at the same game. Nirvana sparked the grunge revolution and was quickly followed by Pearl Jam and countless other artists. The same is true of Radiohead, which brought Travis, Coldplay, and Starsailor into focus. Occasionally one of the followers will come close to matching the frontrunner ó Pearl Jam has, at times, equaled Nirvana, and Travis has released a pair of exquisitely tuneful, if not groundbreaking, albums. But quite frequently, the quality of the rest of the pack diminishes rather quickly.
The Be Good Tanyas, then, are that rare exception in that the group followed the Dixie Chicks into the market, but has greatly improved on the formula. The reason is simple: instead of burying beautiful harmonies and exquisite instrumentation beneath glossy production, the group allows it to remain front and center on its debut Blue Horse. The albumís heart lies with old-time bluegrass and folk songs ó Rain and Snow, The Coo Coo Bird, Oh Susanna, and Lakes of Pontchartrain are all tackled admirably ó but the core guitar, mandolin, and banjo arrangements are beefed up with electric violin, electric guitar, and drums. Even originals, such as the playful The Littlest Birds and the gentle Dogsong aka Sleep Dog Lullaby, play like something from a simpler era. In that sense, The Be Good Tanyas take a page from the book of Iris DeMent and straddle the line between traditional and modern folk, and thatís not a bad place to be. Ĺ
Blue Horse is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box