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Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band

The Mountain – 1999 (E-Squared)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band

It's easy to understand why Steve Earle sought out the Del McCoury Band to help him realize his bluegrass vision. While Earle has shown bluegrass influences with some past acoustic work, this is his first completely bluegrass project. The best cut is the duet with Iris Dement on "I'm Still In Love With You." The title track, which Earle cites as "one of the best songs I've ever written," nicely features McCoury on harmony vocals. Also impressive is "Pilgrim," a moving ballad written in memory of Roy Huskey.

There is not a disappointing cut - the only improvement would have been for Earle to more fully utilize the McCourys' vocal harmonies. McCoury's base of bluegrass fans will enjoy the disc, and Earle's followers will be exposed to bluegrass at its best.