Various Artists

Last Day at Gettysburg: Songs About the American Civil War

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It should be pointed out that Last Day at Gettysburg is subtitled Songs About the American Civil War and not Songs From the America Civil War, since nearly everything here is done in contemporary bluegrass style, and bluegrass was still some 80 years away from its genesis when the War Between the States was fought. Last Day at Gettysburg is actually a sampler of Rebel Records artists disguised as a thematic release, and while certainly all of these tracks touch on the war, there's a certain revisionist feel about the project, as if everything were freshly done up in sepia. Still, there are some strong songs here, including the title tune (written by Gary Ferguson and a bluegrass hit for Larry Sparks), the "Atlanta Is Burning" waltz by the Wildwood Valley Boys, and two striking songs, "General Lee" and "Heroes," by the late, great Jimmy Arnold, drawn from his lost early-'80s masterpiece, Southern Soul. In the end, mixing bluegrass with Civil War themes is a bit like sword fighting with lasers -- it looks cool, and it might even be fun, as long as you don't mistake it for a real sword fight.

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