David Parmley & Continental Divide

Pathway of Time

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The fifth album from David Parmley's band Continental Divide continues its development of a smooth neo-traditional bluegrass sound that draws equally on precursor bands like the Seldom Scene, the Bluegrass Cardinals, and the Country Gentlemen. Those who prefer their mountain music on the edgy side will probably lose patience quickly with such weepy country fair as the Merle Haggard song "Wake Up" (on which Parmley emotes like a cross between Don Williams and Jim Reeves) and the old George Jones showcase "Bed of Roses." But those who don't mind bluegrass with a modern edge will enjoy those tracks just fine, and for the traditionalists there are songs like the Flatt & Scruggs classic "My Saro Jane" and the mountain minor "Without Her in My Arms," not to mention the bracing instrumental "Onion Creek," a composition of mandolinist Danny Barnes. Everything is delivered with an almost casual virtuosity that, in and of itself, will also tend to divide the strict traditionalists (who tend to prefer their bluegrass a bit more vigorous and passionate) from the progressivists. Recommended.

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