The Rowan Brothers - Now & Then

The Rowan Brothers
Now & Then


First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2004, Volume 11, #12

Written by John Metzger


Perhaps the most striking aspect of The Rowan Brothers’ new, double-disc outing Now & Then is how little Chris and Lorin Rowan’s style has changed since their recording debut in 1972. Combining tight harmonies with breezy melodies, the duo’s brand of folk-pop is unmistakably California-baked, and although there’s a bit more polish to the suite of songs that unimaginatively are labeled "Now," there’s little else that allows for any discernable distinction between the two eras that are represented on the collection. At a mammoth 38 tracks — there’s a quartet of hidden tunes featuring guest appearances by members of the Grateful Dead that were plucked from a concert in 1971 — Now & Then is generous to a fault, and as a result, its easy-going refrains rapidly become tediously tiresome. That said, there are a some wonderful moments to be found within this otherwise less than stellar affair: graced with Phil Lesh’s thunderously funky bass, an updated rendition of Solider’s Cross bears some resemblance to a long lost tune from The Byrds’ gem Untitled; with its bluegrass-tinged, bucolic sway, Arms of the One I Love is irresistible; How I Think of You perfectly outlines the connection between the Everly Brothers, The Beatles, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash; and David Grisman ever so delicately paints the corners of the genteel Circle of Friends. The bulk of the collection, however, offers little that is either remarkable or substantial. Instead, it plays like an over-bloated suite of leftovers and recycled musical themes that not only sound out of place in today’s musical environment, but also merely imitate the classics of the past. starstar

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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