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Yonder Mountain String Band

The Show

(Frog Pad; US: 31 Aug 2009; UK: 31 Aug 2009)

A little over ten years ago, I reviewed Yonder Mountain String Band’s Elevation. The first song, “Half Moon Rising,” not only stuck in my head for a long time but in the heads of friends for whom I played the track. It was like bluegrass, written slightly differently, and given a nice ritardando – a change-up this antiquated genre really needed. Unfortunately there’s nothing like that on The Show, the band’s latest album. These four guys continue to play the guitar, bass, banjo and mandolin with superb skill, but they frequently fall into the trap of pop country where the Dixie Chicks and the Rascal Flatts are ground zero for all things old-timey. Most everything here feels like exercises in filling space than actual songs. The one attention-grabbing moment is the sprawling “Honestly,” which stretches a new-grass-shoegaze vamp into a racing toe-tapper over the course of almost eight minutes.

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