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Special Consensus

Signs – 2009 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Matt Merta

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CDs by Special Consensus

While most band leaders would attempt to find new members to fit in with a certain sound that makes the band unique, Greg Cahill has continually brought new talent into the Special Consensus fold to give his band a fresh approach to bluegrass with each new album. This has helped Special C remain at the top of its game for more than 30 years.

Banjoist/founder Cahill and five-year veteran guitarist Justin Carbone are joined by mandolinist Ashby Frank and bassist David Thomas. Carbone and Frank share most of the lead vocals, and their harmonizing is reminiscent of '80s young country duets such as Foster & Lloyd and The O'Kanes. Cahill has always shown support for band members' songwriting, and standout originals include the Frank-penned title track as well as the sweet harmonizing of Carbone's Gone to Carolina (co-written with Becky Buller).

Cahill shows he still has the flash in his banjo playing with his original instrumental Snowball Breakdown, and the disc ends with a wonderful interpretation of the traditional What a Beautiful Day (For The Lord to Come Again). However, the standout song is the bluegrass interpretation of the Statler Brothers' classic I'll Go to My Grave Loving You..

Special Consensus continues to push the boundaries of traditional bluegrass while still paying homage.