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David Parmley

On The Divide – 1996 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by David Parmley

Parmley, Vestal and their band hit big last year with their first album and single ("Wing And A Prayer"). Their new release continues the approach that has won them awards, bookings and appearances on TNN - take material from contemporary Nashville country songwriters, give it contemporary country arrangements, and then present the whole thing with bluegrass instrumentation and vocals.

It makes for some very good music, polished without being slick, and led both by Parmley's expressive, country-leaning lead vocals and Vestal's inventive and rhythmically distinctive banjo.

On a number of songs, the band is supplemented by tasteful drums from acoustic country standby LarryAtamanuik. There are a couple of high-tempo workouts, a pair of covers (Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe), and a nice assortment of songs from Music City writers like Tim Mensey, Kim Williams, Jim Rushing and Harlan Howard. If the quality of material on "On The Divide" is, on the whole, not quite up to that of its predecessor, it's still a strong album, and further evidence that Continental Divide has found a fruitful new way to explore the territory where bluegrass and contemporary country meet.