Acoustic Syndicate

Crazy Little Life

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Acoustic Syndicate's sound includes the blending of acoustic and electric instruments, with banjo, fiddle, and guitar driven by the beat of the drum and thump of an electric bass. Guitarist Steve McMurry, percussionist Fitz McMurry, banjoist Bryon McMurry, and bassist Jay Sanders form the nucleus of the band, with guest Sam Bush adding his usual excellent touches on mandolin and fiddle. While the acoustic instruments may partially ground the group, their approach is infused with a contemporary sensibility. "Crazy Town" recounts how a drifter feels that he has been transformed for the better by the small town he's randomly arrived at, while "Why Not" relays the fear that someone -- a lover or friend -- might leave one behind in a small town. Steve McMurry's lyrics manage to be intelligent without too much navel gazing, and the landscape he covers is similar to Judith Edelman's small-town Americana. The musicianship on this album is very good, though the group seems more focused on songs than on jamming. The one instrumental, "Dancing to the Requiem," features a generous dose of bluesy guitar and progressive banjo. At least three other songs, "Sunlight Falls," "Carnival," and "Billy the Kid," stand out on this album. Each of these songs has a memorable hook, and the vocals are enjoyable throughout. Acoustic Syndicate formed in 1992, and Crazy Little Life is their third album. For an old fan or curious listener, Crazy Little Life delivers.

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