Peter Rowan & Tony Rice
You Were There for Me
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2004, Volume 11, #11
Written by John Metzger
For decades, Peter Rowan and Tony Rice have been expanding the boundaries of bluegrass, and although their paths have crossed quite frequently ó particularly in recent years via a series of collaborative concerts ó You Were There for Me is their inaugural, full-length studio recording. Backed largely by longtime accompanists Billy and Bryn Bright on mandolin and bass, respectively ó Tony Garnier, bass player for Bob Dylanís touring band, and former SeaTrain percussionist Larry Atamanuik also assist on a handful of selections ó the duo carves a customarily wide swath through roots music, flavoring its country-folk concoctions with dashes of bluegrass, rock, and blues while adding a few jazz and Latin-tinged flourishes for good measure. The result is stunning, hypnotic, and intoxicating as Rowanís impassioned vocals repeatedly drift with ethereal beauty over Riceís delicately delivered guitar accompaniments. The galvanic groove of Tin Roof Shack, the wistful Angel Island, and the sorrow-drenched Ainít That Just Like You are all superb illustrations of the success of this distinctive and long overdue pairing. However, the highlight is the positively brilliant insertion of the reflective Cowboys and Indians between the elegiac ballads Miss Liberty (Lay My Lonesome Down) and Ahmed the Beggar Boy, which only improves upon the magnificence of this trilogy of tracks by shading them with a unified interpretation. Indeed, itís a moving ode to the lives lost via an unjust war as well as an attempt to come to grips with how America has found itself in such a dire predicament. In short, there have been plenty of wonderfully soft-spoken and subtle moments scattered throughout a myriad of releases this year, but taken as a whole, You Were There for Me is lovelier than anything else put forth in 2004. That it comes at the hands of Peter Rowan and Tony Rice surely isnít a surprise.
Of Further Interest...
You Were There for Me is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box