Nothin' Fancy celebrated their tenth anniversary as a band in 2004 with their second Pinecastle release, Reflections. Following 2003's Once Upon a Road, Reflections finds the band combining both traditional and contemporary material for an attractive bluegrass blend. Once again, mandolinist Mike Andes' songwriting plays a central role, this time accounting for three-fourths of the material on the album. Andes has a knack for writing contemporary material that never neglects two of bluegrass' most sacred subjects -- God and family. "Little Wooden Crosses" puts a human face on the strange phenomena of placing crosses on the side of the road for loved ones killed in auto accidents, while "I Met My Baby in the Porta Jon Line" mixes love at first sight with a bit of irreverence. Andes is joined by guitarist Gary Farris, fiddler Chris Sexton, banjoist Mitchell Davis, and bassist Tony Shorter for solid ensemble work on simple, straightforward arrangements. Nothin' Fancy are also augmented by a number of guests, including guitarists Kenny Smith, Jeff Ellis, and Chris Burton. Reflections finally doesn't so much improve upon Once Upon a Road as offer more of the same thing, reflecting, it seems, an old country saying: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.