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Continental Divide

Feel Good Day – 1998 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Roy Kasten

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CDs by Continental Divide

Once past the rather facile title track, the latest from this "bluegrass supergroup" reveals convincing, occasionally gripping emotion. David Parmley's deep, almost honky tonk vocal approach can make just about any line live, and Randy Kohrs and Scott Vestal dare each other with instrumental spins and leaps.

The tracks shift between mellow, loping rhythms - especially the lovely, almost pop melody of "If a Train Left For Memphis" - and well-mastered breakdown speed. The band's arrangements, never wholly within or outside of bluegrass traditions, draw colors from unexpected places: even in the standard "East Virginia" the band completely revises the song lyrically and emotionally, with Richie Simpkins flamey alternating leads of mandolin and fiddle. The song becomes less a lonesome moan and more a tale of will power and conviction. And when the band turns towards gospel material, they make it count, choosing a searing, evocative number, "I Dreamed I Drove the Nails."