Deep in the Mountains

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The bluegrass supergoup has a long and venerable history going back to the Bluegrass Album Band that formed in 1981 around the core of Tony Rice, Doyle Lawson, and J.D. Crowe. This one also includes Crowe, as well as five other musicians who have made their names in the years since, some as sidemen and some as leaders: fiddler Ron Stewart, guitarists/vocalists Lou Reid and James King, mandolinist/vocalist Don Rigsby, and bassist Marshall Wilborn. True to bluegrass-supergroup tradition, Longview's fourth album focuses on traditional standards, "acid-grass" chestnuts like "I'll Love Nobody But You," "Georgia Bound," and the Louvin Brothers classic "I'm Gonna Love You One More Time." There's a respectful rendition of the old Bill Harrell novelty tune "Eating Out of Your Hand," and the band also takes a cheerful swipe at "Cotton-Eyed Joe," which they play at a rip-roaring, old-timey string band tempo. But there are a few newgrass moments on the program as well, including a gorgeous Dudley Connell song titled "Weathered Grey Stone," a tune on which James King sings a gritty and dark lead before handing it off to his bandmates, whose backing harmonies are subtly complex and beautifully arranged. There's a clunker or two (most notably "At the First Fall of Snow," a dying-child tearjerker of the most odious kind), and too many of these tracks fail to fully catch fire, but nothing here is less than fun and enjoyable.

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