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Tina Adair

Born Bad – 2013 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Tina Adair

Tina Adair flashed to the top layer of bluegrass music when she first gained national recognition in 1997. She released a second album three years later, but then devoted herself to other pursuits, including a college education, until now. She and husband Tim Dishman are the core of the new Tina Adair Band.

Adair wrote seven of the numbers, although artist-composers are sometimes a problem. An artist presenting their own works doesn't always have an objective ear and you sometimes get, to borrow a Larry Gatlin phrase, some barkers. Not so with Adair's music. She proves as adept with the pen as with the pick.

Don't Grieve is a touching love song, a message between one gone on to heaven and one still here below. You get a sense of her range – as a composer and artist – listening to Now Forever's Gone, a rocking lost-love song that lets her impress you with her mandolin playing, then Heart I Had To Break, a slow-paced love song of heartbreak that features Kohrs' playing.

Snaker Dan, composed by banjoist Sim Daley, is a fast moving piece that underlines the abilities of the musicians. And she doesn't forget gospel music: A southern gospel quartet favorite, Just A Little Talk With Jesus, starts off deceptively slow then swings into its familar rhythm. It translates well into the bluegrass realm. She's reworked the Primitive Quartet's version of Go And Tell Jesus to make it a bluegrass number. The only question mark is Farther Along, recorded as a chorus, sounding like the singers were at the far end of a large hall.

From How I Was Raised, a paean to escaping small time rural life to the big time while maintaining the standards taught at home, to the title song, a tale of life's conflicts with subtle religious references, Adair shows the depth of her talent. She even throws in a duet with country singer Billy Dean (Tomorrow & For Always). Wherever she was for a decade, she's back, and that's good.