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Jerry Douglas

Restless on the Farm – 1998 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

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CDs by Jerry Douglas

This title is appropriate for Jerry Douglas, long known for his non-traditional approach to the dobro. Besides being one of the most sought-after session players and producers in bluegrass, Douglas likes to go beyond the traditional boundries on his own recordings. And that he does, with wonderful results.

There's not much bluegrass here. A stellar re-make of Don Stover's "Things In Life," (Tim O'Brien contributes lead vocals) is as close as the record comes. The rest is a collection of mostly instrumentals featuring Douglas alternating between dobro, lap steel and Weissenhorn guitar. Bela Fleck joins in on a wonderful banjo & dobro duet, "The Ride." Though the instrumentals are tasteful and clever, it is the three other vocal tunes that are the most captivating. Particularly, "Don't Take Your Guns To Town," the song from which the album's title comes, with Steve Earle on vocals and guitar. Maura O'Connell adds her luscious voice to "Follow On." John Cowan, ex of the New Grass Revival, soars on "TV Doctor," a Johnny Winter blues number also featuring guitarist Sonny Landreth.

This album never gets boring and leaves you wanting for more. One of the best CDs to come out this year.