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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Review: Spring Creek - Way Up On A Mountain

Spring Creek - Way Up On A Mountain
2009, Rebel Records

Something special happens when Appalachian bluegrass hits Rocky Mountain air, how else can you explain the burgeoning neo-traditional bluegrass scene out west? It's hard to think of a band that better personifies that scene than Spring Creek. Based in Lyons, Colorado, Spring Creek is the only band to ever win the band competition at both the Telluride and RockyGrass Festivals in the same year. 2009 sees the release of their label debut, Way Up On A Mountain, featuring 8 original songs and covers of Bill Monroe and Ricky Nelson.

Spring Creek establishes the framework early with My Love Is Way Up On A Mountain, going traditional hard and early. The musicianship here is top notch, and the harmony structures are impeccable. Fingerpickers will be highly impressed by both the technical and expressive qualities of the guitar and banjo work. Another Lonesome Night, featuring Jessica Smith on lead vocals, sounds like something you might have heard on the Grand Ol' Opry. Smith's voice has a distinctive edge to it that makes her instantly memorable, but there isn't a voice here you couldn't spend hours listening to. My favorite song on the disc is Tangled In The Pines, with its wonderfully dark shading and traditional sound.

Spring Creek takes a trip down instrumental lane with a touch of Jazz on Cuba Vera Swing before blasting off into Try And Catch The Wind, perhaps the highest energy song on the disc. Lonesome Town is a sweet and sentimental song with a 1930's vocal group touch. The instruments are mostly background as the full quartet shows off their impressive pipes and ability to harmonize. Slow Down is a up-tempo waltz about taking things slow. The song is very intelligently written and hits a less-is-more vibe on instrumentation that is delightful. Be sure to check out the rip-roaring dueling violins on In Despair, 'Til You Come Back To Me and Drivin' Me Crazy.

There has been something of a Renaissance in Bluegrass music the past few years, and a lot of bands are rediscovering the joys of back porch picking styles, but few have done so with the energy, talent and pure joy of Spring Creek. Way Up On A Mountain is not only a great introduction to Spring Creek but to Bluegrass itself. This one's going to end up on a lot of year-end lists, and might even have an award or two in its future.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Spring Creek at You can purchase a copy of Way Up On A Mountain through, or download it through Amazon MP3.

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