Mary Flower

Rosewood & Steel

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Not quite as strong as it predecessor but definitely worth hearing, Rosewood & Steel has Flower putting her own special spin on music by Junior Parker ("Mystery Train"), Charlie Patton ("Pony Blues"), Skip James ("Cypress Grove Blues"), and Brooks Berry ("Can't Sleep For Dreaming"), along with a bunch of originals. Geoff Muldaur, Amos Garrett, Steve James, and Paul Geremia all contribute to various songs. Flower's singing is rich and husky, and her originals exploit the various sides of her musical personality, from playful to dark and moody (check out "Cock-A-Doodle Blues" and "Two Days Straight"), and all but one slots in perfectly with the covers on this collection. Her "Midnite Blue" vaguely recalls CSN's "4+20," with some gorgeous slide by Steve James, while she impresses and then some with her lap steel playing on the delightful "Roll On, Mississippi, Roll On" and Patton's searing "Pony Blues" (which also features Geremia's slide). The real surprise is "Mystery Train," which gets about the slowest, most lyrical treatment ever on record here.

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