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Gina Furtado Project

I Hope You Have A Good Life – 2019 (Mountain Home)

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

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CDs by Gina Furtado Project

Gina Furtado played fairly straight-ahead bluegrass banjo the last several years with Chris Jones & the Night Drivers, however one doesn't necessarily come to her second solo release expecting the same. Good thing as she and her collaborators have several surprises in-store.

With the Night Drivers, Furtado demonstrated dexterity and flexibility, alternately supporting and leading the course of songs recorded over a pair of albums with Jones. With "I Hope You Have a Good Life" Furtado takes her music in a different but no less satisfying artistic direction.

With a vocal approach somewhere between those of Aoife O'Donovan and Maria Dunn, Furtado is a playful bandleader. Nimble on the banjo, Furtado is expressive vocally, moving between a snappy, near-spoken word cadence ("Shame," "Airplane Ride") and animated, pop-influenced ("I Knew What To Do," "Dancin' To Your Tune") styles.

Opening with "Didn't make the cut, but tried my best," it isn't startling that several of "I Hope You Have a Good Life's" songs are perceptibly personal, exploring the imperfections of long-term relationships ("The First Pebble") and the opportunities awaiting outside these ("A Man Like That.")

"Take Your Time (I'll Be Fine)" further indicates not everything is copacetic, assuaged by finding something tempting hearing "a drummer sing the blues that way." Not one to throw in the towel, Furtado is still going to "Try."

Within these melodies, one hears hints of jazz and swing, some East European folk influence, and much more than a sprinkling of bluegrass. Chris Luquette (guitar, Frank Solovan & Dirty Kitchen), Nate Leath (fiddle, Old School Freight Train), Danny Knicely (mandolin, Mountain Music Project), and Mark Fain (bass, Kentucky Thunder, and anybody else he wants to play with) form the basis of Gina Furtado's Project on this recording.

Enjoying "I Hope You Have a Good Life," one finds inspiration from a musician and singer most assuredly creating her own trail. "I focus on the pleasure, something I can treasure," she scats within the closing "Can You Picture That," and one is impressed by someone - Furtado - who charts a course of independence while savouring the experience of being part of a collective.