First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2006, Volume 13, #4
Written by John Metzger
Much as its name might suggest, Atlanta, Georgia’s own Blueground Undergrass consistently has had one foot planted within the bucolic realm of bluegrass. The other, however, has been free to roam through the eclectic, roots-oriented output of the jam band scene. In this regard, the ensemble’s latest endeavor Faces fits quite neatly within the framework of Blueground Undergrass’ storied history. At the same time, though, it also boasts some of most finely crafted tunes that the outfit has recorded to date. The title track, which opens the set, is a delightful slice of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band-tinged country-pop; Clinch Mountain Backstep is a spirited instrumental romp; and the breezy sweetness of In This Life drags Leftover Salmon’s brand of mountain music through the heart of Appalachia. Elsewhere, the collective places a rugged, Little Feat-esque spin upon Guy Clark’s Dublin Blues, and it flavors the sprawling Ole Love Ole Tune with enough of the Grateful Dead that its subsequent, gospel-infused interpretation of Black Muddy River is made all the more poignant.
The central section of Faces, however, poses some serious problems for Blueground Undergrass, and although none of the songs — with the exception of the endless drone of Potter’s Wheel and the jarringly, off-putting juxtaposition of greasy soul, spry country, and smooth jazz that drives Our Feet — are downright awful, there’s nothing that is particularly noteworthy about them, either. Despite the exquisite interplay between fiddler David Blackmon and banjo/dobro picker Jeff Mosier, most of the tracks blend together and become quite tedious. Trim the fat, though, and Faces is a keeper.
Of Further Interest...
Faces is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box