THE BURNING BRIDGES – DOWN THIS OLD ROAD

In this era of digitally enhanced, technically produced sounds, what a pleasure this CD is! The band is led by Australian bluegrass legend Peter Somerville, who applies his banjo virtuosity to music from the roots of bluegrass, and has also included two of his original banjo tunes.  Somerville has been honing his banjo skills and vocals for almost half a century, and for this CD, he’s assembled a lineup worthy of his dedication and talents. Ian Tritt’s mandolin chops and lead breaks are impeccable. Tritt’s watchword is taste: he serves the song, not his ego. The same can be said for Pete Denahy on fiddle, Mark Wardle on guitar, and Rod Boothroyd on double bass – when a song is hot, they’re hot. When the message is one of subdued feeling and reflection, they generate an air of compassion and melancholy. It’s their versatility that is most astonishing. Guest artist Jeff Lang on slide guitar provides a performance that will knock your socks off. But all this would be undone without the contribution of Fran Martin, whose singing might be mistaken for that of an Appalachian virtuoso in the early 20th century. Her sound is at once tender, evocative, and uncanny. When she and Somerville sing in harmony, I challenge any listener to be unmoved. Jeshel Forrester