Various Artists

More Ultimate Pickin

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More Ultimate Pickin': The Best of Instrumental Bluegrass is exactly what it says: twenty bluegrass instrumentals, many of them familiar, picked with flourish. Even if one is less than knowledgeable about older folk and bluegrass fare, tracks like "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" and "Amazing Grace" will be familiar. There are also solid versions of "Whiskey Before Breakfast," "Closer Walk with Thee," and "Goodbye Liza Jane." As one might expect, the arrangements for this pickin' fest include acoustic guitars, banjos, fiddles, dobros, mandolins, and bass. The arrangements and pacing vary from tune to tune, keeping these instrumentals from blending into one another. The personnel, bassist John Cowan, dobro player Rob Ickes, mandolinist Bobby Osborne, and banjoist Scott Vestal will be familiar to bluegrass fans from their recordings on Pinecastle and other record labels. More Ultimate Pickin' has a large caste of characters spread across these 20 tracks, which means that the album, unlike one by Jerry Douglas, is fairly anonymous. The players seem more focused on the melody than fancy licks, rendering these versions more pleasant than inspired (think bluegrass Muzak). Ultimately, the collection is enjoyable background music, perfect for a Sunday drive in the country or working in one's tool shed. For anyone who enjoyed the first volume of Ultimate Pickin', More Ultimate Pickin' delivers a fine successor.

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