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THE COX FAMILY - Beyond the City Rounder CD 0327

The Cox Family's members are, sisters Suzanne and Evelyn, brother Sidney and their father, Willard. The Cox Family's music is more difficult to define and label. There are elements of the New Country sound but based on the older less sophisticated fifties and early sixties styles. Bluegrass, Gospel and more modern influences can also be heard in the harmonies, and with songs from sources as diverce as John Sebastian, A.P.Carter, Jim Lunsford, Roy Orbison, Dusty Rose and Rose Maddox as well as family member, Sidney Cox. The production and the arrangements were the work of Alison Krauss, herself a successful recording artist, a fine singer and a talented and tastefull fiddle player, who has worked with The Cox Family on previous recordings and projects.

The overall sound is acoustic based although pedal steel guitar from Bruce Bouton is effectively used on some tracks. Ron Block on guitar and banjo, Rob Ickes on dobro, Adam Steffey on mandolin, Alison Krauss playing fiddle and viola and Barry Bales on bass all combine in a fitting backdrop to the clear and commanding singing of Evelyn, Suzanne, Sidney and Willard. I particularly liked the singing of Willard on the songs "Beautiful Bouquet" and "Streets of Gold" although all The Cox Family have good, strong, emotive voices as can be heard on "Beyond the City", "Cotton Dan", "I'll be all Smiles To-night", "Lizzy and the Rainman" and both versions of "Broken Engagement".

Although this recording is miles away from being a rhinestoned Nashville nasty, for many this may still sound too commercial. Sure the playing, mixing and production is slick and the recording has that sparkle of quality and eveness of sound associated with an adequate recording budget. Perhaps this has more to do with the people on the engineering and technical side knowing their way around recording studios. On The Cox Family's, "Beyond the City" you will certainly hear singers and musicians who know their way around songs and tunes.

Peter Fairbairn.

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This album was reviewed in Issue 12 of The Living Tradition magazine.