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Spirit Family Reunion

No Separation – 2012 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Spirit Family Reunion

There's been heavy traffic lately on those rural routes that lead to the hills and the heartland, birthing place of America's early folk roots. Bands like the Punch Brothers, Deep Dark Woods, Shovels and Ropes and Trampled by Turtles have helped those routes and roots to intersect at the same juncture where The Band and their brethren found a common muse and pursued a sepia-tinted sound. Spirit Family Reunion, as their name might imply, shift and stir those references with equal consistency, making for a delivery ideally attuned to an Appalachian encounter.

The fact that this band hails from Brooklyn might seem somewhat incongruous at first, but given their rustic arrangements and the humble pluck of banjos, fiddles and mandolins, their air of authenticity is all but assured. And while certain songs do bring The Band to mind - On My Mind and To All My Friends and Relations in particular -- the backwoods branding doesn't bow to anything akin to contemporary spoils. Even so, there's no shortage of effusive offerings, be it in the sprightly surge of I Am Following the Sound, the celebratory spirit of I Want To Be Relieved or the easy, ingratiating swagger of 100 Greenback Dollar Bills. And while it's not unusual to find Spirit Family Reunion occasionally turning pensive (in some cases, even forlorn), the honesty and integrity inherent in this archival approach are a consistent joy to behold.

It remains to be seen how long Spirit Family Reunion will adhere to this template and resist the temptation to amp up their sound. After all, mass appeal often escapes those acts who are under-amplified. Nevertheless, there seems ample potential for popularity on the both the bluegrass and festival circuit where organic sounds generally find an enthusiastic response. Given the infectious feel and their timeless trappings, there's no reason to suspect they'll receive anything less.