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Flashback

Denver Snow – 2018 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

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Nearly a quarter century ago, J. D. Crowe resurrected the New South with a group of - relatively - youthful musicians to record the album "Flashback," a seminal album within the Crowe and 'traditional' bluegrass archives. Dobroman Phil Leadbetter reunited the group for a series of 20th anniversary shows, and the outfit - with Stuart Wyrick taking over the 5 - released the popular "Foxhounds and Fiddles" in early 2017; a year later the now four-piece band, minus Leadbetter, produces "Denver Snow."

Don Rigsby (mandolin), Richard Bennett (guitar), Curt Chapman (bass) and Wyrick are all bluegrass veterans, musicians and singers who have been part of more bands than can be counted on both hands. Each is highly respected: Rigsby and Bennett have released multiple albums under their own names; Chapman continues to also play with Wildfire, and spent more than a decade with the New South; and Wyrick earned a reputation as an excellent bluegrass picker during stints with Dale Ann Bradley and Brand New Strings, and released an all-star effort of his own a couple of years ago. Someone provides un-credited fiddle to at least one song.

Bennett's distinctive, comfort-providing voice is featured in the lead position on a number of songs, including the lead tracks, a nostalgic 'white lightning' song "Moonshine" and the strong title number, a Bennett-Shawn Lane co-write. Rigsby hasn't encountered a sentimental song that he couldn't deliver with conviction, and "The Letter," a co-write with Dave Atkins, is a centerpiece of this collection. He delivers an intense vocal exercise within "A Rose (From Time to Time.)" Rigsby also has an affinity for church songs, and he delivers neighborly advice on the playful "We Might Get A Little Loud."

Mid-set, Flashback do a bit of jamming on familiar numbers. Bill Emerson's venerable "Cowboys and Indians" (with stellar picking from Bennett) and the standard, "Take This Hammer" are provided flawless interpretation, but best might be their rendition of Larry Rice's seldom encountered "Without Mentioning Your Name." The influence of the Country Gentlemen is apparent on the broadside ballad "One Morning In May."

"Denver Snow" is a quality album steeped in the bluegrass influences and traditions of previous decades.