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New Reveille

The Keep – 2018 (Loud & Proud)

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

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CDs by New Reveille

New Reveille, a talented quintet from North Carolina, can boast the finest harmonies that any kind of music can offer. On their debut, New Reveille mine the early American sounds and make them sound fresh. It's a unique sound that embraces bluegrass, Americana and classical from talented individual musicians. Yet, it's the three-part female harmonies that caress and soar to surprising heights, taking your breath away.

Band members include Amy Kamm on lead vocals, Daniel Cook on banjo and guitar, George Hage on guitar, Autumn Brand on violin and Kaitlin Grady on cello. Several prominent Nashville session players such as Dan Dugmore on pedal steel and Fred Eltringham on drums join. Grammy winner Ben Fowler produced and engineered.

The combination of fiddle and cello is equal parts soothing and haunting, but there's enough fire and electricity in the female voices to warm a small village even though the lyrics are usually rather chilling. Many of the songs. mostly in minor modes, have a prevailing dark and haunting feel. Lyrics conjure up ominous visions. Storms are evoked in the wistful "Conway Shore," where a doomed friend "broke apart in the wind. Now you're a drifting plume of dust, lost in a lightning storm at dusk." In "Miracle," a soothing violin and acoustic guitar herald a story of childbirth - only to later reveal a premature death.

Other songs are more narrative and more straightforward, though far from cheery. The opening "Hounds," links one's past eventually with the present. "Savannah," has two sisters fleeing from the shadows of their Carolina home toward a more immediate doom, with the era, Civil War, or now unclear. "Worn Sunglasses," also addresses flight toward real or imagined shelter

Cook and, to a lesser extent, Hage and Brand are the writers. Cook describes his inspiration to be mostly early American mountain music and when adding Hage's blues and folk guitar roots, New Reveille is at the intersection of where the mountains meet the swamp. Clearly, they've already established a unique sound, but what might be the most amazing thing about this project is that the emotive lead singer Kamm never sang in bands before, let alone on records. She had only been a church singer and replied to an ad to get this gig. She is simply remarkable. Brace yourself and prepare to be stunned.