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Shawn Lane and Richard Bennett

Land and Harbor – 2019 (Bonfire)

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

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CDs by Shawn Lane and Richard Bennett

When two bluegrass masters come together in a duo setting, magic is likely to occur. Shawn Lane (Blue Highway) and Richard Bennett (Flashback, J. D. Crowe) have been writing together for a few years and released a five-song EP featuring three of their songs.

Not as bluegrass in sound or vision as what most have come to expect from the pairing, "Land and Harbor" is an acoustic, Americana showcase of musical interplay and songwriting prowess.

With two guitars and Gaven Largent (Dailey & Vincent, Blue Highway) on Dobro, these performances are uncluttered. Lane takes the vocal lead on "Charlestown," one of two songs with a home place setting. The other, "Nautical Song," is sung by Bennett. There appears a deliberate calmness enveloping these unhurried performances.

The extended flat-picking breaks are spectacular. The instrumental journey Lane and Bennett undertake within "Nautical Song" is quite impressive: each time you suppose they have accomplished all they can, around comes another flurry of melodic notes.

The familiar "Shady Grove" is refreshed within this dulcet setting, while similar notes populate "Harmon's Den," a backwoods mountain song of fair justice featuring some of the album's finest duo guitar playing. Bennett rounds out the set with "Mussel Shell," a reflective song reminding one of a Gordon Lightfoot composition, and the only track on which Lane plays fiddle.

Coming in at 26-minutes, "Land and Harbor" isn't far off some bluegrass sets; with material this strong, one is disappointed Shawn Lane and Richard Bennett didn't see fit to craft a full album.