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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Review: Cedar Hill Refugees - Pale Imperfect Diamond

Cedar Hill Refugees - Pale Imperfect Diamond
2009, Effigy Records

Its East meets West, Uzbek style. American-Uzbek jam band, Jadoo joins forces with heavyweights of American Roots music to release Pale Imperfect Diamond on May 19, 2009. Co-producer Jack Clift founded Jadoo while living in Uzbekistan, and approached John Carter Cash about an album that mingled traditional American folk music with Uzbek instrumentation. Clifton And John Carter Cash were joined by The Peasall Sisters, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Marty Stuart and John Cowan to become Cedar Hill Refugees. Drawing on the strong similarities between traditional Uzbek music and Appalachian folk, Cedar Hill Refugees gets much closer to the traditional roots of American folk than many American artists. Their debut album, Pale Imperfect Diamond truly is a gem.

There's a lot of attention given to the Celtic roots of Appalachian music that grew into American Folk, Country and Bluegrass styles. Whitehouse Blues is an interesting construct, focusing on a previous period of economic uncertainty in the United States. History buffs will get a kick out of this one as it focuses on Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt. Keys To The Kingdom dwells upon the power of faith in dark times with strong imagery and a gorgeous vocal line. The title track is an original tune written in a traditional vein that is both ancient and modern at the same time. Stormalong is vibrant and reverent and Green Grows The Laurel is inspired, but Wildwood Flower is the star of the album. Angelic vocals by The Peasall Sisters and flawless instrumental execution will have you returning to this track again and again. Other highlights include Sailaway Ladies, Candle and Oh, Bury Me Not.

Cedar Hill Refugees marries traditional American Roots music and Uzbek instrumentation so perfectly you might not have noticed if I didn't tell you. The stylistic and sonic similarities on our roots speaks a great deal about the universality of human experience and expression. Pale Imperfect Diamond is as much an allegory for the cultures of both countries and their people as anything else. The music here is both reflective and instructive of our shared paths and our divergences. Pale Imperfect Diamond is bound to be one of the highlights of 2009.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Cedar Hill Refugees at Pale Imperfect Diamond will hit shelves May 19, 2009.

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