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Michael Martin Murphey

Buckaroo Blue Grass – 2009 (Rural Rhythm)

Reviewed by John Walker

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CDs by Michael Martin Murphey

Native Texan Michael Martin Murphey is known as the top selling singing cowboy, the first to attain a Gold album in cowboy music since Marty Robbins. His song Wildfire is one of the most played songs in the history of radio in all formats.

This is Murphey's first bluegrass album. Several of Murphey's songs have been recorded in the past by other established bluegrass musicians, and had some success. Carolina in the Pines, along with Lost River and Cherokee Fiddle have all made chart appearances in the past by others.

The album features nine reworked acoustic versions of Murphey's songs, plus two new originals. Michael's son, Ryan Murphey, produced the album by assembling a team of master acoustic musicians: Sam Bush (mandolin), Ronnie McCoury (mandolin), Rob Ickes (Dobro), Pat Flynn (guitar), Andy Leftwich (fiddle), Charlie Cushman (banjo), Craig Nelson (acoustic bass), Ryan Murphey (guitar) and Rhonda Vincent (harmony vocals on Lost River.

While Murphey's vocals talents are strained at times, there are a few songs that are exceptional. Lost River is beautifully done with Vincent's strong harmonies. The arrangement on Cherokee Fiddle brings new life to the music. The new Close to the Land, used currently as the theme song for RFD's America Heartland show, also grabs your heart strings.