Blue Mountain

Roots

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It seems every alt-country act must record an exploratory roots album at one point or another. Wilco and Dave Alvin have done it quite successfully. While the members of Blue Mountain grew up in the Mississippi hill country, the traditional music they explore on Roots is of Appalachian origin, not country-blues. (Of course, Blue Mountain has never embraced the blues so why start now?) Choosing traditional public domain tunes of obvious Scots-Irish pedigree means we get plenty of songs about drinkin', sinnin', and murders of passion. Best of the set are the spare murder ballad "Rain and Snow" and the bittersweet "Banks of Lake Pontchartrain," the singer intoning pain and defeat with a knowing wistfullness. These sad but beautiful tunes are well balanced with up-tempo versions of "That Nasty Swing" and "Little Stream of Whiskey." Haunting and timeless songs performed by one America's best alt-country groups.

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