Steep Canyon Rangers

One Dime at a Time

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The Steep Canyon Rangers are one of a number of contemporary bluegrass bands that have worked hard to expand tradition by writing lots of new material. They continue this undertaking on One Dime at a Time, a new collection of 11 songs with one being an instrumental. While all of the band's members -- guitarist Woody Platt, mandolinist Mike Guggino, banjoist Graham Sharp, fiddler Nicky Sanders, and bassist Charles Humphrey -- are fine musicians; this band specializes in performing as a unit. The Steep Canyon Rangers, then, concentrate on the song, delivering fun numbers like the title cut and the mysterious "Green-Eyed Lady" in a brief three minutes. The band also like to perform songs that tell a story. One standout, Charles Humphrey's "The Ghost of Norma Jean," first gains attention by telling a good story, and next, by slowing down the tempo on the choruses for some nice, bluesy harmony. The song is also unique in following up another story-song, "Norma Jean," from the band's last album, The Steep Canyon Rangers. On songs like this, synchronicity is essential, and it shows that the band has been together long enough (five years) to play well as a unit. The band also shows off its vocal finesse on "I Can't Sit Down," a gospel number performed a cappella. One Dime at a Time is a solid release and a good introduction to the bluegrass sounds of the Steep Canyon Rangers.

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