Split Lip Rayfield

Should Have Seen It Coming

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Once you get past the fact that bassist Jeff Eaton's instrument was once the gas tank from a pickup truck, these days Split Lip Rayfield aren't particularly far removed from what an ordinary bluegrass group might be doing, at least from a musical standpoint; though they obviously like to play blazingly fast tunes (just like the Circle Jerks or Ralph Stanley), SLR's fourth long-player, Should Have Seen It Coming, doesn't betray the group's punk rock origins until you listen to the lyrics to songs like "Redneck Tailgate Dream," "A Little More Cocaine Please," and "Hundred Dollar Bill." And that's probably the point -- this music is steeped in the letter and the spirit of traditional bluegrass, which has always been a more rough and tumble animal than mainstream country, and while all four members are solid pickers (especially guitarist Kirk Rundstrom and Wayne Gottstine on mandolin), there's still a few rough edges in the group's playing and harmonies to remind listeners that these songs are played by living, breathing human beings. Whether they're going for laughs or playing it straight, Gottstine, Rundstrom, and banjo man Eric Mardis are all strong songwriters, delivering material that adds a strong present-day twist on classic bluegrass styles, and even when these guys are playing for laughs, they make it clear this band isn't a joke. There was a three-year gap between Split Lip Rayfield's previous album, Never Make It Home, and this set, but the results make it clear Should Have Seen It Coming was well worth the wait.

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