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Kristin Scott Benson

Straight Paths – 2002 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Kristin Scott Benson

Once in a great while you drop a CD into the player and it's pure pleasure: no so-so tracks, nothing you want to skip, good for your ears and soul front to back. Kristin Benson has made one of those recordings.

It's strictly instrumental with your standard bluegrass band, just missing a dobro. Most of the finished cuts don't have the bit of a raw edge often heard in bluegrass, having a more languid, easy listening feel. That doesn't diminish the recording a bit, but will give it appeal beyond hardcore fans. There are nods to the masters, "Sally Ann" (Scruggs) and "Fireball Express" (Jim & Jesse - Shelton), and there are some originals, too. She opens with an original ("The Hunt") that grabs your interest, then swings into a new treatment of "Foggy Mountain Rock" that has you grabbing for an instrument to play along. The closing tune, "Straight Paths," is a dreamy original, a fitting close to this slightly off-centered album.