The next in this wonderful and important series of albums is by The Resonant Rogues, whose dark Appalachian folk paints a picture of their lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina and on the road. The duo is Sparrow (banjo, accordion) and Keith Smith (guitar), both of whom provide lead vocals and support the other with backing. Although we do get some proper duets, such as on “Fool of the Rules”, often it is one of them taking the lead, and the other only coming in sparingly. Songs written by Sparrow also have a higher banjo/vocal relationship, and the result is a performance which is polished yet with plenty of innovation. They are traditional troubadours in that while they have built their own homestead they have travelled the country, sometimes on freight trains, singing their tales as they go.
Their songs are based on real experiences, friendships, and challenges, and this honesty comes through in everything they do and the atmosphere being created by the background noises (more than just insects on this one) make it seem all that much more real. There is a lightness, yet also a darkness, and is as far removed from the plastic rubbish one hears on the radio as it is possible to imagine. This is music being played from the heart by musicians who really care, in an environment where there is no room to hide and instead, we get bluegrass which is powerful and refreshing. This is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and varied releases from Dan Emery and long may this series continue as it shows music in the modern day can still be poignant and important, even with an airplane flying overhead while Sparrow sings delicately.
8/10 Kev Rowland