Crooked Jades

Seven Sisters: A Kentucky Portrait

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It will only take a few notes to let the listener know that the Crooked Jades are the real deal. Sure, their brand of old-time music, harking back to the '30s and '40s, will probably never make it on CMT. This fact, however, shouldn't deter lovers of old-time music from seeking it out. The 20 pieces that grace Seven Sisters: A Kentucky Portrait never slavishly copy original sources, which means the band isn't afraid to put their own stamp on a song. And while they offer nice takes on classics like "Moonshiner" and "I Wish I Was a Single Girl Again," they also tackle a number of rarities. The band's unique arrangements and multiple vocalists give the band an edge. Lisa Berman's Hawaiian slide work stands out on "Miner's Child" and "Letters Edged in Black," and she's also a fine vocalist, whether singing lead or harmony. Bassist Martha Hawthorne sings a lovely lead on both "Little Bessie" and "She Lied to Me," while guitarist Jeff Kazor, who sings the greatest number of leads, offers vigorous versions of "Cumberland Gap" and "Hard for to Love." The spacy arrangements evenly layer the oddly tuned banjos, lonesome Dobros, and multiple voices. This means that even when a particular cut has a guitar, banjo, and mandolin, the Crooked Jades take things at a much more leisurely pace than an old-time band like the Skillet Lickers. Seven Sisters: A Kentucky Portrait originated as a soundtrack to the movie of the same name, but the music holds up quite nicely by itself. The Crooked Jades have concocted a potent mix of traditional material, both varied and genuine, that will appeal to old-time music lovers.

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