Rice, Rice, Hillman & Pedersen

Running Wild

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Billing themselves as an anti-supergroup, Rice, Rice, Hillman & Pederson have decades of talent under their belts, but their ego-free attitudes allow for the exchange of some genuine American music. Their third release as a group, Chris Hillman, Herb Pedersen, and brothers Larry and Tony Rice perform a unique blend of progressive bluegrass and earthy contemporary country, sharing vocal duties on a combination of new songs and country classics. Highlights include former Byrd Hillman's take on "4 + 20," written by his folk-rock contemporary and former Manassas bandmate Stephen Stills, and some truly inspired steel guitar accents from guest Jay Dee Maness, particularly on "Two of a Kind." With the addition of drums and additional instrumentation on many of the tracks, the band has expanded beyond the strictly acoustic sound of its earlier albums, but still retains a warm intimacy. The band's interpretations of classics, like Jim & Jesse's "Hard Hearted," the Beatles' "Things We Said Today," and the title track made popular by the Louvin Brothers work better than some of the originals (like the positively maudlin "The Mystery That Won't Go Away," which recounts the death of Jon Benet Ramsey). The album's high points outweigh its faults and make for a solid listen overall.

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