Missy Raines

Inside Out

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The CD case advises store owners to file this one under "bluegrass," but it's not clear why. Granted, Missy Raines is a nearly legendary bassist in bluegrass circles, but her latest solo project features little to no bluegrass; instead, it ranges far and wide pursuing a varied agenda that covers jazz, new acoustic swing, funk, and a sort of country-flavored pop. Not all of it succeeds: the title track opens the program on a vague and unfocused note, trying for jazz but just sounding like noodling. But "Basket of Singing Birds" nicely showcases her warm, slightly sultry voice and "Duke of Paducah" is a softly impressive instrumental that tightens up the jazz groove considerably by adding an element of Southern R&B to the mix. "Pootie Tang," however, falls flat -- it's hard to do acoustic funk convincingly, and when you do it unconvincingly the results can be a bit embarrassing. But it can be done well, as the band demonstrates later on the excellent "Stop, Drop & Wiggle." The emotional centerpiece of the album is Raines' instrumental tribute to her recently deceased father, a gorgeous composition entitled "Ides of March." It's uneven and fans of her more mainstream bluegrass work may be puzzled, but there's plenty to enjoy on this album.

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