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JODY STECHER & KATE BRISLIN "Stay Awhile" Rounder ROUCD0334

Husband and wife team of Jody Stecher and Kate Brislin paint the canvas with a joy and a gay abundance that springtime itself would marvel at. Apart from their sheer love for the music, Jody and Kate are superb all round musicians deeply entrenched in the old ways - yet, aren't averse to collecting the odd jewel from unexpected sources in their quest for an old timey bluegrass tune.

The duo's relaxed, no surplus frills approach, aching with feeling, scores heavily on the "Blue Mountain", the beautifully understated gospel cut "No Heaven on the Country Road" (where it's the beauty of their harmonious vocals that wins the day, underpinned with gentle string bass and their own guitars). Kate's culling of the gospel "We Shall Meet Someday" from the Stanley Brothers' catalogue, with Larry Hanks singing the bass part, gently rattles the rafters. Stecher earns his corn on both mandolin and fiddle on delivering "Laybourne's Hornpipe" and "The Grants Hornpipe", retracing bluegrass' Scottish links. "Jack Monroe", one of those 18th century folk ballads, also finds them raiding our shores for ideas. A sorrowful tale with gentle chorus, banjo and Kate's fiddle and charming old worldly lead keep it close to its origins.

Others of note include the jaunty "Seventeen Cents" in a mode that's reminiscent of Doc Watson's cross-matching of folk and bluegrass smattered with a hint of blues, while Kate's fine lead comes across pure and clear on "Fall on my Knees". As she accompanies herself on fretless banjo, Jody meanwhile picks some fine guitar - you'd be pushed to find a finer old timey, mountain piece.

Maurice Hope

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This album was reviewed in Issue 11 of The Living Tradition magazine.