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Lynwood Lunsford and the Misty Valley Boys

A Portrait of the Blues – 2000 (Hay Holler)

Reviewed by Jonathan Colcord

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CDs by Lynwood Lunsford and the Misty Valley Boys

When it seems that just about all of the young bands in bluegrass are pushing a slick, contemporary sound, along comes Lynwood Lunsford. His new band, the Misty Valley Boys is playing a brand of bluegrass more akin to the early J.D. Crowe & The New South, for which he is happy to site as an influence. Lunsford comes to it honestly, as a former banjo picker from Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys just as did Crowe.

The quartet features James Crain on most lead vocals and guitar, Gary Baird on bass and vocals with Jason Barie on fiddle and vocals. Guesting on mandolin is Ronnie Prevette. Lunsford contributes mostly baritone vocals throughout.

Among the finer numbers recorded are the two Lunsford originals, the highly personal "I Just Can't Believe," and "A Sorry Life," written in classic bluegrass murder ballad style.

The band covers other great numbers, including Mark Knopfler's "How Long," beginning with a Cajun fiddle groove. Material from Mel Tillis, Jimmie Skinner and others handled very tastefully by the group. Lunsford has created an impressive band and album likely to please the most discerning bluegrass fan, traditional or contemporary. A sparkling debut.