BGO's 2015 two-fer combines two Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with more than a decade separating the pair: 1983's Let's Go and 1994's Acoustic. The two albums couldn't be more different. Let's Go is a punchy, polished pop crossover affair, an album that contains covers of Andrew Gold and Marshall Crenshaw in between interpretations of Bob McDill and Rodney Crowell, whereas Acoustic makes its roots aspirations plain in its title. Let's Go did mark the return of "Nitty Gritty" to the group's name -- they spent a few years as just the Dirt Band -- and with the longer name came vocalist Jim Ibbotson but the album's heart still lies in the softer adult contemporary sounds of the early '80s, not the favorite of many Dirt Band fans but it's a strong soft rock record, balancing frivolous island nonsense like "Never Together (But Close Sometimes)" and "Don't Get Sand in It" with yacht rock ballads, neo-rock & roll ("Let's Go"), and, with that version of Crenshaw's "Maryann," even power pop. Acoustic certainly is closer to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's wheelhouse but this is hardly sepia-toned pure country. It has its lighter moments, such as the singsong "Hello, I Am Your Heart," which could've easily fit onto Let's Go if it were given a different production, but the focus is all on the song and the Dirt Band's simple, unaffected interplay. It's unassuming but that's why it's a charming little record.
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