Pine Mountain Railroad

Knoxville Train

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Pine Mountain Railroad is certainly not the first bluegrass band to enjoy the sponsorship of a food company or to write a song in praise of their beneficiary's product -- the Martha White Flour Company's underwriting of Flatt & Scruggs is legendary and "Martha White Theme" remains a bluegrass classic. But they may be the first band to put the food company's name (in this case, that of Tennessee Pride breakfast foods) on the cover of their debut CD and a coupon for the product inside the case. It's a charmingly retro touch, really, and a fitting one for a band who in so many ways exemplifies the straightforward virtues of hard-hitting, straight-ahead traditional bluegrass. Knoxville Train features the tight harmonies, virtuosic picking, and homey lyrical themes that one would expect from a mainstream bluegrass album, along with a few subtle modern twists -- the sly use of a relatively jazzy chord progression on "Why?," for example, and the melodic picking of banjo player Kipper Stitt on "Fly." There's also a little bit of the mawkishness that too often comes with this territory, as on the gospel number "Letter to Grandpa" and the rather maudlin love song "Pick up the Pieces." But overall, this is an auspicious debut by a band who is sure to appeal to all lovers of traditional bluegrass.

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