Rafe Stefanini

Ladies Fancy

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AllMusic Review by

It serves as a comfort to some folks that certain kinds of music, despite ever-changing popular tastes, stay the same. Banjo/fiddler/vocalist Rafe Stefanini is about as traditional as traditional can be, drawing from old-time music and honoring it by adding nothing more than his own style. Stefanini is joined by guitarist/mandolinist/vocalist Jim Collier, fiddler/guitarist Clelia Stefanini, and guitarist Nikki Lee. Even when all four join together on a freewheeling piece like "Fox Chase Reel," the arrangements are sparse, allowing room for each instrumental part to stand out in the mix. Vocal tracks like "Trouble in Mind" and "Temple" also stick close to tradition, and aren't -- as is evident on many bluegrass albums primarily composed of instrumentals -- an effort to place a song on the radio. There are familiar tunes here, like "Sittin' on Top of the World" and Tommy Jarrell's "Boll Weevil," and Stefanini tackles each with a fresh perspective. As is appropriate for a fall release, Ladies Fancy includes a holiday song, "Breakin' Up Christmas." As a bonus, Ladies Fancy's cover is an old-time painting of expectant ladies, looking toward a large fiddle floating mysteriously in the sky. Its rich, lovely colors, sense of humor, and old-fashioned style make it both a joy to look at and a hint of the music within. Both Stefanini's fans and lovers of old-time music will find much to like about Ladies Fancy.

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