Emerson & Newton

A Foot in the Past, A Foot in the Future

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Solid straight-ahead bluegrass from a group comprised of masters both old and young. For old, we have the legendary Bill Emerson, banjo virtuoso and charter member of the proto-newgrass Country Gentleman; for young, we have the very fine singer and guitarist Mark Newton, as well as the equally fine mandolinist Emory Lester and bassist Bob Goff. Newton has a remarkably flexible voice -- compare his full-throated mountain roar on "Long Gone Baby" (a Neil Diamond song, believe it or not) to the gentler, higher-pitched tones he brings to bear on Larry McPeak's "The Vow." There are two Jimmy Martin covers, one a typical novelty tune ("Home Run Man") and the other a bitter kiss-off ("Don't Cry to Me"); the latter finds Emory Lester cross-picking a la Jesse McReynolds. The group's sound is strictly traditional, but there's nothing stuffy or academic about it. Great songs, tight harmonies, and virtuosic playing make this disc a delight from beginning to end.

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