Rhonda Vincent

Good Thing Going

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Rhonda Vincent is not only one of modern bluegrass music's most conspicuously talented artists, she is also one of the savviest and cleverest. As an artist she's a triple threat: her voice is sharp, clear, and sweet; she's a fine mandolin player; and she's pretty and not afraid to show a little skin (which guarantees her plenty of attention in the normally rather dowdy and male-oriented bluegrass world). But she has also built a musical niche for herself that sets her apart from the pack without alienating (most) purists: rather than resorting to the time-honored practice of blending bluegrass with pop and rock influences, she tempers her traditional material with elements of modern country and Western swing -- the latter a more unusual stylistic interpolation than you might think (perhaps because swinging jazz rhythms are so foreign to bluegrass, which is usually very rhythmically square). Good Thing Going finds Vincent bringing all of those styles together to create a very solid and enjoyable program. There are a few high-octane barnburners ("I'm Leavin'," "Bluegrass Saturday Night," a roaring version of the Jimmy Martin classic "Hit Parade of Love") and they're all very fun, but the standout tracks are the ones that depart a bit from the standard: the swinging "World's Biggest Fool," the country-folky "I Gotta Start Somewhere" (with drums, yikes), the Eagles-ish "Just One of a Kind," and a sumptuously lovely version of the old Irish song "The Water Is Wide." Her regular band is augmented by a guest list that includes Jesse McReynolds, Russell Moore, and Bryan Sutton, among others, and everything hangs together beautifully. Very highly recommended.

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