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Kristy Cox

Part of Me – 2016 (Pisgah Ridge)

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

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CDs by Kristy Cox

Honored in 2015 with an Australian Golden Guitar for Bluegrass Recording of the Year, "Part of Me" proves that Kristy Cox is surrounded by a team focused on her success. Recorded in Tennessee with Jerry Salley producing, Cox's extensive experience as a vocalist is evident on heart-worn material including "The Part of Me (That's Still in Love With You.)" Sentimental perhaps, but not overwrought.

Like Rhonda Vincent, Cox is most successful with upbeat, driving material. "Baby, You Ain't Baby Anymore," previously recorded by Jett's Creek, is as appealing as it is frivolous: a strong performance that is sure to be a live set favorite. "Your Train Don't Stop Here Anymore" blends country and 'grass quite well and is also memorable.

A stark rendition of Chris Stapleton's modern standard, "Daddy Doesn't Pray Anymore" is significant. Previously recorded by James King and Volume Five as well as Stapleton on his award-winning "Traveller" set, again Cox (along with Salley and guitarist Stephen Mougin) pulls this one close lending credibility to the performance.

"Little White Whiskey Lies" (co-written by Tammy Rogers and Salley) and the lead track "Another Weary Mile" should also be favorably received, while "William Henry Johnson" turns the table within the Little Willie oeuvre. "I'm No Stranger to This Lonesome Road" isn't the greatest bluegrass tune ever written, but it has a driving rhythm and swinging chorus.

Working with a core band, the album has a cohesive feel. In addition to Mougin, the band is comprised of Justin Moses (Dobro), Mike Bub (bass), Jason Roller (fiddle and mandolin), and Steve Sutton (banjo). Vocal harmonies are of the type more associated with country and pop music than bluegrass, ably offered by Jerry and Maggie Salley.

"Part of Me" is a very clean, slightly over-produced album ("Your Love Never Grows Old" and "You Walked In" are a bit slick) that holds up across 37-minutes. Cox is a personable vocalist who has crafted a fine album of bluegrass, one not all that different from when we first encountered her with "Breaking New Ground" several years ago.