The Dillards

Let It Fly

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Over the years, the Dillards have had their share of personnel changes. When they recorded Let It Fly for Vanguard in 1990, the main participants were founding member Rodney Dillard (lead vocals), Steve Cooley (acoustic guitar, banjo), Dean Webb (mandolin), and Mitch Jayne (who co-wrote a few of the tunes). Produced by the Desert Rose Band's Herb Pedersen, Let It Fly is really more country-rock than bluegrass -- no one will mistake this CD for a collection of Bill Monroe recordings from the '40s. Let It Fly, which favors a blend of acoustic and electric instruments, doesn't cater to bluegrass purists. But then, the Dillards quit catering to bluegrass purists in the '60s when they started using electric instruments. Let It Fly should be judged by country-rock standards -- not traditional bluegrass standards -- and when country-rock standards are applied, one realizes that the album is excellent. Although bluegrass purists will be disappointed to learn that Let It Fly is far from a carbon copy of the Dillards' earliest recordings, country-rock items like "Out on a Limb," "Livin' in the House," and "Close the Door Lightly" have more heart than most of the slick, contrived stuff that country radio was playing in the early '90s. Rodney Dillard is expressive and convincing throughout the album, and in a perfect world, Let It Fly would have received a lot of airplay on country radio. But country radio didn't give this release the time of day. And while that was regrettable, it certainly wasn't the end of the world. The Dillards still had plenty of hardcore fans, and those are the people who bought Let It Fly. Arguably, Let It Fly is the best album that the Dillards provided in the '90s.

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