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NewFound Road

Life in a Song – 2006 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by NewFound Road

Seldom does a bluegrass band of unknowns make an immediate impression. With most bands, the members have spent several years paying their dues as understudies in established bands or they've made a name for themselves as solo artists and joined together as some kind of supergroup.

Not New Found Road. Relative unknowns from Ohio, Tim Shelton, Rob Baker, Jr. Williams and Randy Barnes ably share the vocal duties while weaving some fine harmonies. They write solid bluegrass tunes while selecting tasty covers. And, they can lay down some strong licks. It helps to have Dobro master Rob Ickes in their corner as producer, and Mountain Heart fiddler Jim Van Cleve adds his talents.

There are plenty of highlights, but check out the back-to-back songs "No Clue" and "When I Get Home." First they pick the devil out of mandolinist Baker's instrumental tune, then turn around and sing, a capella, the gut-wrenching Roscoe Reed gospel number.

The quartet's album is among the finest bluegrass debuts in recent memory. Best thing is, it came from four guys from Ohio, not an assembled cast of stars.