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Kathy Kallick

Foxhounds – 2015 (Live Oak)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Kathy Kallick

Match a seasoned performer, musician and composer with excellent musicians, and you expect a really good CD. Kathy Kallick's isn't just really good, it's excellent. In addition to Kallick singing lead and playing guitar, Cary Black plays bass; Annie Staninec, fiddle; Greg Booth is on Dobro and banjo while Tom Bekeny plays mandolin. They all add vocals. Listen to their instrumental cover of "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" and the traditional "Roscoe" to hear fine picking.

A range of textures are covered. "In Texas," a Kallick/Riley Thompson composition, is laid back and flowing with a repetitive melody that holds you and lulls your senses as you listen to a story of heartaches in Texas. Lily May Ledford's "Banjo Pickin' Girl" takes you back to the days before bluegrass was much known and the Coon Creek Girls were popular in Renfro Valley. It's a rollicking number with great instrumental breaks. Booth gets in some impressive licks on the banjo, bringing back memories of Sonny Osborne's sometimes freewheeling approach. Kallick even makes Richard Thompson's/Jo-El Sonnier's "Tear Stained Letter" work in a bluegrass context.

Mandolin anyone? Bekeny does a resounding job with Bill Monroe's "Kentucky Mandolin" with Booth getting high on the neck on the banjo. Booth switches to Dobro on Mac Martin's "I'll Forgive You" supported by Staninec's fiddle, bringing back memories of fiddlers like Kenny Baker and Benny Martin. Kallick's unadorned voice is a perfect match for these songs. Imagine the Carter Family recording in a modern studio; she would fit right in. She is a perfect fit for "My Montana Home, a lush description of that great state and her travels while missing home. If you like smooth, tight harmony vocals, the title song will please greatly because the band is in top form with another Kallick composition.

Kallick has been a force in bluegrass music for four decades and now 17 albums. If you don't know her music this is a perfect time to get acquainted.