Larry Rice has always held tighter to tradition than his brother Tony, even when he's singing more contemporary material like Gordon Lightfoot's "Rainy Day People." Perhaps that's why Rebel, as opposed to Rounder, released Clouds Over Carolina. It's a good fit. Rice, as is his habit, unfurls his songs at a relaxed, easygoing pace. His vocal style on a song like Fred Rose's "We Live in Two Different Worlds" is so calm that one might think of it as "mellow grass." Rice's distinctive style also allows him to put his stamp on a familiar favorite like Elizabeth Cotten's "Freight Train" and the traditional "Little Maggie." Unlike a number of contemporary bluegrass hybrids, however, Rice's mellow style never forgets its roots. He's careful to never over-polish his material, meaning that songs like "If You Only Knew" and "Never Meant to Be" retain a rustic edge. The mandolin/banjo/Dobro/guitar arrangements keep things simple, and mandolinist Rice is joined by solid pickers like banjoist Sammy Shelor, fiddler Rickie Simpkins, and guitarist Tony Rice. Add to this a good mix of Rice originals, a couple of classics, and a great instrumental ("Burnt Rice"), and listeners are left with an album that offers a fresh turn on tradition.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.