[4 February 2014]
The Show Ponies are a West Coast-based bluegrass/old-timey band who, at their best, embody all the raw energy and enthusiasm inherent in the genre, fortified with on-target lyrics and a refreshingly modern sensibility. Opener “Baby, I’m in Love With You” rips out of the speakers on an irresistible tide of energy, while “We’re Not Lost” adds a sweet wistfulness into the mix. The sounds are all classic bluegrass – fiddle and mandolin and banjo, ably supported by a solid rhythm section and surmounted by high lonesome vocals both male and female. The gospel inflections of “The River” are a nice touch, too.
Alas, not all the news is good, and not every track is a winner. The record sags a bit in the middle, with hokey numbers like “Whiskey and Wine” striking a note that is cloyingly familiar both musically and lyrically, while “Pieces of the Past” is rather watery and formless. The band does better with high-octane tunes like “Spring Has Sprung” and “Choppin’ Wood”. More of that, please.