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Beth Stevens

Strong Enough – 2008 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Beth Stevens

After stints with her family's band and one album paired up with a sibling as The Stevens Sisters, Beth Stevens finally takes the plunge and releases this solo debut. With contemporary energy but keeping solid roots in traditional bluegrass, Stevens comes across like a cross between the brassy grass of Rhonda Vincent and the soulful strains of Blue Highway on Demons and Angels, featuring a stirring vocal duet with Steve Gulley.

Stevens seems comfortable with her new role up front, giving her group a hip name like "Edge" and allowing them to shine on fast-paced tunes such as Heading Out Of Heartache and the gospel harmonies of Sweet Peace where Stevens and Dale Ann Bradley trade vocal riffs throughout in a rousing bluegrass gospel style. Bluegrass has some memorable female bandleaders from Vincent and Bradley to Claire Lynch, but there is always room for more, especially when they're both committed to tradition and open to expanding the genre's sound as Stevens is here.