The combo of vocalist/fiddler/mandolinist Tim O' Brien and banjo player Pete Wernick was never stronger than on Hot Rize's 1987 release Untold Stories. Never as "progressive" as some of their peers (New Grass Revival, the Seldom Scene, Country Gazette), Hot Rize were able to hold on to the trappings of traditional roots music without ever letting it sound stale or too "old-timey." The underrated vocals of O'Brien harmonize beautifully with Wernick and bassist Nick Foster, and the dobro playing of the ubiquitous Jerry Douglas soars over several tracks. The fluid instrumental "Bluegrass Part Three" serves as an early highlight, and Wernick's beloved phase-shifted banjo pops up on the edgy "Shadows of My Room," but the album's stark high point is the delicate closing number "Late in the Day." This simple love song highlights the singer's restraint and guest player Douglas' clean, soaring dobro. Warm and crisp all at once, Untold Stories tells more than the title would suggest.
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AllMusic Review by Zac Johnson