Josh Crowe

Sincerely

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It would be easy for a critic to complain that there are simply too many bluegrass bands today making mediocre music. While the performance level is usually high, the results are often uniform and bland, as though the music had been over-polished and over-produced. It's nice, then, when someone like Josh Crowe releases an album that's neither. Crowe's twangy vocals and rustic arrangements glance back to yesteryear without seeming derivative. If one needed a word to describe these versions of "It Looks Like the Sun's Gonna Shine" and "Born to Lose," it would be "natural." Although the dozen selections are succinct, there's still time for good instrumental work from banjoist Kenny Haney, guitarist Zane Fairchild, and Dobroist David Johnson. Despite the overall fine quality of Sincerely, a couple of small, nitpicking points should be made. Although Crowe's version of "Man of Constant Sorrow" is solid, the song -- thanks to its appearance on the O Brother soundtrack -- is too familiar. Also, the album closes with an instrumental of "Wildwood Flower," the most overplayed country instrumental of all time. Both of these would have been easily forgiven had the album been longer than 35 minutes. Still, Crowe conjures up visions of bluegrass from yesteryear, and fans of greats like Jim & Jesse will love every minute of it.

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