Various Artists

Moody Bluegrass: A Nashville Tribute to the Moody Blues

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With all of the other countless tongue-in-cheek bluegrass renderings of classic rock radio staples, it's hard not to toss off producer/mandolin player David Harvey's irony-free reimagining of the Moody Blues' greatest hits as just another campfire novelty meant to be pulled out during the more inebriated portion of the evening. However, when the project attracts a session band that includes Alison Krauss, Sam Bush, Lionel Cartwright, and Tim O'Brien -- just to name a few -- what was once an exercise in high camp turns into a lovingly crafted tribute that's as reverent as it is whimsical. Harvey's love for the group is obvious -- he gets kudos for including overlooked gems like "Land of Make Believe" and "Late Lament" -- as the track order mimics the veteran band's typical live set, even utilizing their trademark opener, "Lovely to See You," as the leadoff cut. What follows is surprisingly heartfelt and poignant. Who knew that "The Voice" and "Your Wildest Dreams" were far better country songs than rock songs? Why does the druggy epic "Legend of a Mind" sound so much less insipid in the hands of a bunch of Nashville studio musicians? Probably because they saw past all of the Mellotrons, precious song cycles, and spoken word pretense and dug out the intangible spark that made these songs hits in the first place.

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