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Monday, November 23, 2009

Review: The Henhouse Prowlers - A Dark Rumor

The Henhouse Prowlers - A Dark Rumor
2009, Prowlers Music

Chicago's The Henhouse Prowlers mix traditional Bluegrass with subtle modern touches and Rock N Roll energy, bringing a new vitality to a highly traditional and occasionally stodgy art form. Traditional Bluegrass fans tend toward the ultra-conservative, but this is one Newgrass band with the chops and understanding of where their music came from to be able to draw the traditionalists toward their campfire. The Henhouse Prowlers have played with everyone from Cornmeal to Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs. Along the way, they've been featured on PBS' The Ride Of Our Lives, and have a tendency to make new fans every time they step on stage or pick up their instruments. The Henhouse Prowlers recently released their sophomore CD, A Dark Rumor; It's a good one.

A Dark Rumor opens with a Stonemans cover; Turn Me Loose. It's a vibrant tune with a classic feel and sound but just a hint of modern styling. The entire group is in wonderful voice, and the musicianship is stunning. Uncle Bubba is a dark take of racism and murder from the civil rights era. The arrangement is strong and the songwriting compelling, but the story is a bit disturbing. The Henhouse Prowlers hit on a classic sound with gorgeous vocal harmonies on Simplify; a song about getting back to your roots. Trouble is the Blues, Bluegrass style. It's a tremendous tune that's offered here as a waltz and applies Chaos Theory to everyday life.

The Ballad Of Davey Robinson is an epic story song full of murder and intrigue. This highly entertaining original tune might be destined for a lot of songbooks. It will appear to traditional Folk and Bluegrass fans as well as anyone who wants to be truly entertained by a musical performer. The foolish nature of lovers is explored with great results on 10 Miles More. The high energy and charm of the song speak directly to how much fun The Henhouse Prowlers must have had recording this song. Shadow Of A Man explores heartbreak from inside the bubble, touching on how quickly happiness can turn. The theme continues on Silver Lining, where the narrator is wallowing in his own heartache, almost to the point of madness. Walkin' Around In The Snow touches on familiar territory for Bluegrass and Country music at one time. It's what you might call a hobo song; a tune about having nowhere to go and nothing to do. There's a distinct melancholy that fights with the sense of freedom and wins. The Henhouse Prowlers close out with a gentle instrumental called Haley's Lament. It's a pleasant enough tune, but somewhat anti-climactic in light of all that came before it.

Bluegrass music is in very good hands with bands such as The Henhouse Prowlers at the fore. The picking and singing here are world class, and A Dark Rumor is highly enjoyable. This is one of those albums that makes you want to run out and find what else The Henhouse Prowlers have done, and when the next new album might be expected. Check out The Henhouse Prowlers, a must-hear band.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about The Henhouse Prowlers at or You can purchase a copy of A Dark Rumor as either a CD or Download from

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