This Compendia Music release capitalizes O Brother-like on the success of the film Cold Mountain and its old-timey soundtrack, tapping a gang of bluegrass and folk artists for a run through material with a physical or historical connection to the Appalachian home of the mountain itself. Most of these songs are traditionals that can be categorized as perennials, oft-recorded and standard-bearing for the genre: "Shady Grove," "Old John Hardy," "Pretty Polly," and the like. However, the performances are solid throughout, heartfelt enough to bleed some resonance into the too-slick production. Fiddler Bruce Greene and dulcimer player Don Pedi do a very nice job with the instrumentals "Sandy River" and "Old Joe Clark," while the gentle vocals and plucked banjo notes of Laura Boosinger lend "Grove" a more hopeful tone than its usual fatalism. Other highlights include Jim Lauderdale's "Lorena," which suggests the warm reverence of country gospel, and the efficient, highly technical bluegrass guitar work of Larry Keel on "Black Mountain Rag." Return to Cold Mountain's song selection might not be exploratory enough for genre aficionados; however, listeners with a casual interest in bluegrass and old-timey music via Cold Mountain or even the O Brother landscape should find Return to Cold Mountain quite appealing.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus