Kenny Smith

House Down the Block

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A group knows it has something good going when it wins the International Bluegrass Music Association's Emerging Artist of the Year award, and it's only a short step to the recording studio. House Down the Block gives the Kenny & Amanda Smith Band a chance to prove just how good they are to everyone who hasn't had a chance to catch them on the road. The Smiths are joined by mandolinist Ron Inscore, bassist Greg Martin, and banjoist Steve Huber for a lively set of traditional and original material. The band meets expectations because of its strength as a band: everyone does something well, and when it all comes together, the total effect is greater than the sum of its parts. Even a throwaway song like "Stay a Little Longer" receives a fine treatment, highlighted by Kenny Smith's nifty flatpicking. Amanda Smith handles most of the vocals and handles them with aplomb, bringing a lively depth to each lyric. It will probably seem a bit odd to have so many heartbreak songs -- "Where Love Went Wrong" and "Why Don't You Just Say Goodbye" -- performed by a husband and wife team, but then again, heartbreak has always been a gristmill for songsmiths. House Down the Block finds the Kenny & Amanda Smith Band living up to their rep.

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