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Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike

No Summer Storm – 2002 (Rebel/Bell Buckle)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike

Considering the impact that Rhonda Vincent has had in the world of bluegrass over the last three years, it would be easy for some to think that the "A" List of female bluegrass vocalists begins and ends with her, but there's actually a lot of impressive talent on the distaff side these days. In fact, Vincent is not even the only Missouri gal on the list. With her third release, Valerie Smith shows that she's in the same league and continuing to grow as a singer and songwriter.

Her previous release, "Turtle Wings" featured a selection of tunes that was, at times, as much mainstream country as bluegrass, but the new disc is straight-ahead 'grass, featuring the current version of her band, Liberty Pike, completely turned over from the previous album, with the welcome addition of Becky Buller on harmony vocals (sadly, mandolin player Eddie Miller was lost in an auto accident after the album was finished). "No Summer Storm" conveys the energy and freshness of her stage shows and looks to be among the stronger bluegrass releases of the year.