Cherryholmes IV: Common Threads

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Despite appearances to the contrary, Cherryholmes IV: Common Threads is not really the fourth album by bluegrass family band Cherryholmes. In fact, they released three albums before they started enumerating them with their self-titled fourth, so this is actually their seventh album, but that self-titled 2005 release marked a turning point wherein Cherryholmes signed to Skaggs Family Records and made the move toward a less traditional sound. Got it? Good. Four albums into that new beginning, Cherryholmes make a definitive move further from their old-school bluegrass roots than ever before. Besides the fact that Common Threads marks the first time the bandmembers have written all the songs themselves, those songs tug further at the boundaries of bluegrass, but it's all part of the evolutionary process that began on that aforementioned Skaggs Family debut. "Changed in a Moment," for example, is a decidedly jazzy tune with a walking bassline, extended chordal voicings, and a swinging feel underneath mandolinist mama Sandy Cherryholmes' dusky, bluesy vocal. "It's Your Love," sung by guitarist Skip Cherryholmes, is a delicate, melodic pop ballad where his sister Molly's fiddle work shifts from folksy sawing to a more orchestral mode. That's not to say that Cherryholmes have gone and turned into Nickel Creek or anything; there's still a fair amount of strongly rooted material to be found on Common Threads. "Standing" -- ironically Sandy's other vocal showcase -- sports a classic country gospel feel, and the closing track, "Tattoo of a Smudge," is a good ol' fret-burning instrumental tune that you can just imagine as a fiery capper to a smoking Telluride Festival set.

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