New Horizons

Jesse McReynolds

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New Horizons Review

by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

While it may seem difficult for hardcore bluegrass fans to imagine Jesse McReynolds soldiering on after the death of his brother and longtime partner, Jim McReynolds, this is exactly what he has done. It's fitting, then, that his 2004 release on Pinecastle is titled New Horizons. Mandolinist/vocalist McReynolds has nonetheless maintained the sound of recent Jim & Jesse albums, a sound that harks back to the duo's earliest efforts. He's joined by a crack group of singer/musicians gathered under the umbrella of the Virginia Boys, featuring vocalist Charles Whitstein, guitarist Donny Catron, banjoist Daniel Grindstaff, and a number of others. New Horizons benefits immeasurably from the inclusion of a fine set list, including "In the Pines" and "There's More Pretty Girls Than One." One of the most moving moments on the album is a lovely version of "Faded Love," adorned with a tenor vocal hauntingly similar to Jesse McReynolds' high-lonesome style. The Virginia Boys take a moment out for God and Country on "America on Bended Knees," before offering a relaxed take on Autry Inman's "She's Looking Good." The album ends with a guest appearance by John Prine for a rough-and-ready version of his own "Paradise." For everyone who believes that they don't make bluegrass like they used to, New Horizons will serve as a perfect antidote.

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