After working for several years inside the folk/bluegrass outfit Salamander Crossing, Rani Arbo left the band to seek her own musical path. The fun and very together result of this career move is Cocktail Swing, a dip into '20s and '30s jazz with help from Daisy Mayhem. Swing jazz may be "in," but this recording is hardly typical of the recent trend. First of all, it's mostly acoustic, with the band achieving a rich sound, and next, it reminds one of how a folk -- not rock -- band would approach older jazz. Guy Clark's "Baby Took a Limo to Memphis" and Lefty Frizell's "I Do My Cryin' at Night" would fit snuggly onto older Laurie Lewis albums, while the title cut, an instrumental, would work nicely on an early Tony Rice album. Cocktail Swing is never derivative, however. There's a fun confidence in Arbo's vocals, and the multiple talents of Daisy Mayhem add depth and variety to the material. There's a lovely version of "Snowbird" with a vocal by Andrew Kinsey that freshens up this overplayed classic, while Dave Dick and David Hamburger's guitar work add lots of spice to these sessions. Even within the limits of swing jazz, the material is fairly eclectic. "Every Little Moment" adds Latin rhythms, while "Once More" revisits a classic duet by George Jones and Melba Montgomery. Even a more typical choice like "That's All" comes across with vim and vigor. Cocktail Swing meets and surpasses expectations for Arbo's post-Salamander Crossing debut. Anyone who enjoys superb acoustic music will want to pick it up.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.