Ever wonder what it might sound like if bluegrass musicians played Neil Diamond songs? Whether "Cracklin' Rose" and "Sweet Caroline" would hold up as instrumentals? Well, wonder no more. Forever in Bluegrass presents ten songs from the man who has sold 110 million albums over 40 years. As with other CMH collections, the musicians vary from track to track. The mostly acoustic arrangements, however, remain similar from tune to tune. David West provides sparkling guitar and mandolin on "Solitary Man," while Gabe Witcher's fiddle adds a bit of warmth. The harmonica and banjo of "Cracklin' Rose" remind one of a spacy piece by Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, while an energetic fiddle adds a springy jug band feel to "Beautiful Noise." A steel guitar injects a bit of country into "Song Sung Blue" and "Mama Don't Know," while a dobro infuses "I'm a Believer" with a touch of the blues. What a die-hard Diamond fan will make of all of this is perhaps one of those mysteries best left unanswered until the next life. One thing, however, is sure: these tracks sound a heck of a lot better than cheesy Muzak versions. A fun curiosity, Forever in Bluegrass provides a brief tribute to a pop superstar.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.