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Ramona Church & Carolina Road

Carolina Memories – 2001 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Jonathan Colcord

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CDs by Ramona Church & Carolina Road

Ramona Church, a former Coon Creek Girls alum of seven years, excels on banjo on her debut, yet her vocals often lack the punch needed to drive these songs. Her dusky, sleepy vocals work best on the slower numbers.

The album - the debut contemporary bluegrass recording for Carolina Road - is comprised primarily of original songs penned by mandolin player Lorraine Jordan, which are perhaps the strongest feature here. Unfortunately, the recording relies heavily on hired hands in an attempt to get off the ground, putting the regular band mostly on the bench, while names like Jim Van Cleve, Kim Gardner, Greg Luck, Clay Jones, and most of IIIrd Tyme Out are brought in to pinch hit. As a result, among the best tracks are the two instrumentals, and Hank Williams' "House Of Gold," sung by regular guitarist Dan Wells (with guitar by Luck).

The liner notes, penned by 3TO's Steve Dilling attempt to put focus on the band, yet the overall impression here is that this project may have been rushed to fruition and may have benefited from some time to simmer as all new bands should before putting sound to wax.