John Reischman

John Reischman and the Jaybirds

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The Jaybirds take a rather unorthodox approach on their debut by opening with the instrumental "Salt Springs." This piece unwinds at a leisurely pace for five minutes, allowing the banjo, guitar, mandolin, and fiddle plenty of room to stretch out. Next up, the band offers a relaxed take on Gillian Welch and David Rawlings' "Winter's Come and Gone." John Reischman's lead is matched by Trisha Gagnon's tenor, creating a rich harmony perfectly suited to the tune. While the band can play straight-up bluegrass songs like "Don't Wake Me Up," their specialty is centered on material that slowly unwinds like "My Home Far Away" and "Katy Dear." This style works especially well with Gagnon's vocals, allowing room for her medium-range voice to breath life into the words of pieces like "Blossoms on the Almond Tree." Instrumentals like "Poisoning the Well" and "Hog Eye" spotlight the skills of mandolinist Reischman, banjoist Nick Hornbuckle, guitarist Jim Nunally, bassist Gagnon, and fiddler Greg Spatz. While the lead work of the individuals is grand, it's never showy. The band's real strength, however, is their ability to play as a unit. In their faithfulness to the needs of a particular song like "Medicine Springs," the band sometimes seems to have more in common with old-timey music than bluegrass. John Reischman and the Jaybirds is a fine debut, and will appeal to both bluegrass and old-timey fans.

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