K.C. Groves

Something Familiar

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K.C. Groves' second album is titled Something Familiar, but she could just as easily have called it Something Fresh; as on her fine debut Can You Hear It, Groves is a vocalist, songwriter, and musician who finds a solid middle ground between bluegrass traditionalism and contemporary acoustic music, and she makes that combination sound appealing, comfortable, and compelling. In the tradition of many classic bluegrass artists, Groves' voice isn't flashy, but it's as emotionally honest as the day is long, clear as a country stream, and she breathes life into her songs, which feel classic without seeming as if they came from a museum. Groves has a modern gal's view of relationships, and while she has nothing against old-fashioned love, on tunes like "Thinking in Terms" and "Keep on Lookin'" she makes it clear she has a mind of her own and isn't about to let any man change it without good cause, and the message is all the more potent in this context. Groves is a sure hand on the mandolin, and has brought together a fine ensemble to accompany her on these tunes, including Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Eric Thorin on bass, Mollie O'Brien on vocals, Jim Hurst on guitar, and Sally Van Meter on banjo and Dobro; the performances are intimate but expert and heartfelt throughout. The production by Groves and Hurst and the engineering by Colin Bricker give the album a clean, transparent sound that serves the songs beautifully, and Something Familiar builds on what was good about Can You Hear It while staking out some new territory and demonstrating that Groves is a gifted artist who is only improving in all she does. Folks with a taste for contemporary bluegrass are advised to seek this out.

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