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Bo Isaac & The Rounders

Dollar – 2012 (Out of the Woods)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Bo Isaac & The Rounders

From its origins in old-time and mountain music, bluegrass retained the topical content that spoke to those in dire straits or economic troubles, and it also celebrated the faith that allowed people to rise above those circumstances. Kentucky native Bo Isaac was raised on bluegrass, fiddling since the age of five, playing guitar and writing songs not long after that, and it shows in his heartfelt take on traditional bluegrass and willingness to cover those familiar themes with a high energy style.

The title track and Miner's Cry cover the economic hardship themes quite nicely, while Preachin', Prayin' addresses the question of faith (They've got plenty of it) with driving rhythms courtesy of his band, The Rounders, that will make any Del McCoury Band fan smile. The band deserves special mention, especially banjoist Elmer Burchett, who wrote or co-wrote a majority of the songs on the album.

Isaac's not afraid to venture away from tradition, though he rarely goes farther than country music with songs such as the ballad As Close As I Can Get or the beautiful duet in waltz time Whisper Away, featuring Haley Burchett on vocals alongside Isaac. There's nothing flashy or particularly contemporary about the kind of bluegrass Isaac makes here, but this back-to-basics approach to bluegrass means there is plenty to enjoy here for anyone, either casual fan or staunch traditionalist.