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The Buck Stops Here

The Buck Stops Here – 2015 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Fred Frawley

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CDs by The Buck Stops Here

Music still has the ability to startle. The listener happens across a song or an artist; something new is afoot. Music is discovery. The unknown band debuts with the eponymous "The Buck Stops Here." Who are these people? They sound great and confirm music's unique gift.

TBSH, as they call sometimes call themselves, tours with a line-up of four female players and one male (the token buck). The women are, however, responsible for the CD. This is 21st century mountain music, featuring thin, but searing, fiddle lines, banjo (sometimes rolling bluegrass, sometimes clawhammer style), and outstanding harmony singing.

. Gailanne Amundsen (of Jubal's Kin) rounded up like-minded musicians in 2013, and they put together this collection. Most of the songs are original to the band, but there's no dilution of quality between traditional numbers (an emotive "Goin' Up On A Mountain/ Cherokee Shuffle medley) and originals ("Hold Me" or "Elder's Prayers").

The strongest songs were written by Shona Carr. She is from upstate New York, grew up in the Celtic Music tradition, attended Berklee School of Music in Boston, and played for a few years in the southern gothic band Lost Indian. "Fly Bird," written by Carr, leads the CD and stacks up favorably against any current Americana original material.

Julia Chiles plays an easy, but tough, fiddle and sings admirably. Chiles, Carr and Amundsen are all credited with fiddle, which sets a tone throughout. Rebecca Jones rounds out the group; she's strong on vocals and plays the bluegrass banjo. As if to underscore their mountain roots, there's no credited mandolin on the CD. The companion banjo styles and fiddle lines richly fill the interstices. Yet, the band is not stuck on the porch swing of mountain music: Carr's "Will of The Wolves" and Admunsen's "Mister Moon" feature, respectively, electrified guitar, wah-wah pedal, and bass and a Hammond B3.

"The Buck Stop Here" brings a breath of fresh mountain air and shows that musical discovery is alive and well.