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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CD Review: The McKrells - Cosmic Hayride

The McKrells - Cosmic Hayride
2005, Thorntree Music

Kevin McKrell has built a reputation as a world class songwriter and performer over many years of hard work, a handful of recordings and thousands of live shows. As the charismatic lead singer/songwriter of The McKrells he has toured the world and had his songs played by artists from The Furey Brothers to Michael DeAngelis. The McKrells presented a blend of Celtic and bluegrass donned "Celtic Newgrass", and they had an ability to charm most any crowd any place they went. Their most recent (and possibly final) album is Cosmic Hayride, which offers an outstanding performance from the McKrells.

Cosmic Hayride opens with Always, a song that is so representative of the McKrells sound it could be their signature song. It features the extraordinarily tight play of the band and the unmistakable voice of Kevin McKrell. The fact that it is a silly little love song in the Beatles tradition (if they played bluegrass) is pure gravy. No Good Reason is an ode to staying in a bad situation in spite of your self. I also enjoyed Big Lazy River, an Apalachian style folk/country tune that you can't help but be drawn into. This melody will stick in your ears like a fly in honey. Other highlights include the frenetically banjo laden Cosmic Hayride, Snowbound (featuring Craig Vance on vocals), the traditional ballad Black Is The Colour and For Emily.

The absolute pinnacle of this album is A Ghost In This House. This is the sort of song musicians find out about and want to record for their own albums. It's a heartbreaking song of loss, surpassed in its sense of loss only by a jagged-edged beauty. This is The McKrells, and Kevin McKrell in particular, at their zenith.

Whatever the future of The McKrells, they leave behind a catalogue of great songs and unforgettable performances. If The McKrells are over, then Cosmic Hayride is a subtle exclamation point on their time together and a must for your music collection.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

If you want to learn more about Kevin McKrell and The McKrells, check out You can purchase a copy of Cosmic Hayride at if it is currently in stock. Otherwise you can purchase the album as a download through iTunes.

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