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Yonder Mountain String Band

Yonder Mountain String Band – 2006 (Vanguard)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Yonder Mountain String Band

The argument about what is and isn't bluegrass has been around as long as the genre itself, and the music of Yonder Mountain String Band is a perfect case in point, although it's unclear for which side.

Up to this point, YMSB has found their audience in the borderline bluegrass/jamgrass festival circuit, even though their sound was pretty straight bluegrass most of the time - all strings, no drums, lots of songs that at least sounded traditional. With this disc, they've blurred the lines, adding drums and a big-time rock-sounding production from Tom Rothrock, creating something new that many old fans won't like, but which may bring more artistic longevity by freeing the group from genre-specific constraints.

The title track opens the CD with a Guster-like pop edge, and there are several more songs that tread even closer to Dave Matthews territory. Those that prefer the 'old' YMSB sound will find a few more traditional-sounding tunes tucked into the middle portion of the album, but the majority of this finds them traveling down the middle of the pop road instead.