The Infamous Stringdusters

Fork in the Road

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From Fork in the Road's cover and the stylish photo layout of the six young dudes who make up the Infamous Stringdusters, the band could always audition for a twenty-something TV drama if the music business doesn't pan out. The Stringdusters deliver solid contemporary bluegrass on Fork in the Road, offering dramatic vocals, hot picking, and a likable set list. Professionalism, however, has become a common commodity on the contemporary bluegrass scene, where bands rely on a smoother production, carefully blended harmonies, and instrumental proficiency. Arguably, the stylistic variations of many of these bands are minute. The Infamous Stringdusters, like the Circuit Riders, follow in the footsteps of Blue Highway (and bands like the Seldom Scene), adding Dobro to guitar/fiddle/bass/mandolin/banjo arrangements. The Stringdusters have also learned to broaden their appeal by relying on a number of lead vocalists. It's easy to like a number of selections on Fork in the Road: "Tragic Life" has an intriguing storyline, and "Poor Boy's Delight" possesses an easy-flowing charm. As with Blue Highway, though, it's easy to feel that too many rough edges have been removed, taking the life out of the music. While contemporary acoustic music fans will find much to like here, other listeners may wish the band had clung closer to bluegrass roots to produce a sound less connected to the studio on Fork in the Road.

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