The Cumberlands

Bridging the Gap

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It's a bit odd how certain types of music go in and out of style. Way back in the early '60s at the height of the folk revival, dozens of groups like the Cumberlands rubbed elbows at folk festivals from Newport, RI, to Berkeley, CA. But by the late '60s the revival was in ruins, leaving rustic musicians either to plug in or take a day job. Beginning in the 1990s, however, roots music of all shapes and sizes came back in style, leaving the ground fertile for the Cumberlands to get back together and do pretty much what they did in the 1960s. Jim Smoak, Betty Thom, and Harold Thom deliver 21 songs and instrumentals on Bridging the Gap, returning to old favorites and a few originals to connect the dots to the past. While one suspects that a number of bands turn to roots music in an attempt to cash in on a trend, the Cumberlands are looking back to the type of music they grew up with. The success of the project relies on the band's natural approach to fine songs like Harold Thom's "Days of the Buffalo" and Rodney Dillard/Mitch Jayne's "There Is a Time." The band's warm vocals roll off in an easygoing manner as a banjo keeps time and a dobro offers tasteful support. The song selection is also strong, featuring fun pieces like "This Heart of Mine" and "Satisfied Mind," and the arrangements -- mostly banjo, guitar, bass, and dobro -- are nice and simple. A relaxing a straightforward effort, folk and old-time fans will appreciate the laid-back sound of Bridging the Gap.

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