Kenny and Amanda Smith

House Down the Block – 2004 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

CDs by Kenny and Amanda Smith

With their tight vocal and instrumental harmonies Kenny and Amanda Smith demonstrate that they deserved their IBMA emerging artists award of 2003. Amanda is an exciting singer who can hold her own with any of the top bluegrass artists and she is backed by superb musicians on this new CD.

Their music has been called "progressive." The structure, flow and topics of many of their songs are different than the familiar strains of Monroe and Stanley (and "Stay A Little Longer" as featured late on this CD), with more of a country feel - but with bluegrass instrumentation. When you get to "It's Not the Wind," the album shifts gears into more traditional bluegrass and the contrast is obvious.

They close with a lively, driving version of the old standard "Big Ball in Boston." They can play with the best of them, and this CD shows their versatility, a recording you'll enjoy if you like the progressive movement.