Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem

Gambling Eden – 2003 (Signature Sounds)

Reviewed by John Lupton

CDs by Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem

It's a reworking of an old joke, but if you plug "eclectic" and "bluegrass"into Google, you very well might get Rani Arbo's picture back at the top ofthe hit list. For most of the '90s, she was the lead singer, fiddler andartistic drive of the Boston-based progressive bluegrass band SalamanderCrossing, a band that took plenty of liberties with Monroe's music, butwith a style and attitude that Monroe himself probably would haveunderstood and appreciated.

With her current band, Daisy Mayhem, there's precious little for bluegrass purists to latch on to, and in fact it's something of a stretch to think of "Gambling Eden" as a "country" album at all, yet for the attentive listener Arbo provides plenty of down-home undercurrents.

There are a number of traditional tunes like "Stewball" and "Red RockingChair," done in offbeat style and arrangements, but Arbo is at her best asa vocalist on her own original material like "Finland" and "Sparrow," atune on which she almost seems to channel Tommy Duncan. It's a number thatBob Wills would have jumped on, and it's easily the most "country" track onthe disc. Ultimately, though, Arbo is a very seductive singer, in the sensethat you'll probably end up liking her more than you think you will.