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Kenny and Amanda Smith

Unbound – 2016 (Farm Boy)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Kenny and Amanda Smith

Longtime partners in life and music, Kenny and Amanda Smith have taken the Alison Krauss path to bluegrass success-using the genre as a jumping off point to frame some beautiful songcraft in acoustic textures that soar far beyond any notion of traditional music.

"Unbound" is typical of the material with Amanda taking the lead vocals and Kenny providing seamless harmonies as the guitars, banjo and mandolin swirl around them. The message provides a theme song of sorts for them in lyrics that reference freedom from things that hold one back such as pride.

The Smiths' body of work is never far from their faith and gospel roots, and even when the lyrics aren't explicitly religious there's a desire for connection, a value in family and friends that shines through songs such as "Something Missing" and "Every Pilgrim Needs a Highway," which celebrates the journey of life, and especially the road that leads to home. Closing tune "Tea Party" isn't about anything political, rather it highlights the simple pleasures of dollhouses, daughters and family time.

Kenny and Amanda Smith are deservedly big stars in the world of bluegrass music as the players in their band are always top notch and the songs are some of the best in the genre. This offering proves yet again, however, that their appeal could, and should, extend far beyond that limitation.