Rowan the songwriter and Rice the guitar picker. There’s some incredible synergy here on songs that range from folk to jazz to bluegrass to…? Rowan and Rice, who have been around for a thousand years or so, deliver a solid CD on this Rounder release. While my own childhood memories of Rowan take me back to “Muleskinner”---a transcendent mix of rock and bluegrass featuring the work of the world’s greatest guitar player, Clarence White, there are some gems to be found in the latest release from these folk/bluegrass giants.
Eleven cuts, featuring the supporting accompaniment of bassist/vocalist Bryn (love the spelling) Davies and mandolinist/vocalist Sharon Gilchrist. Solid and steady work throughout, particularly on cuts such as “Dust Bowl Children” (an evocative piece about lost hopes and farming). “To Live is To Fly”, written by Townes Van Zandt, simply makes you feels the loss of this great songwriter. You can hear this great in the subtle phrasings of vocals and instrumentation. “Shady Grove” just makes you heart soar like a hawk (apologies to Chief Dan George).
There’s a couple of cuts that do not rise above the pedestrian, but some just don’t fall into any type of classification…that’s what separates this album for the tried and true…give it a shot.