Brand New Strings

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The pickers in Brand New Strings have only been playing together for a few years, but since their 2010 debut they've been one of the hottest young bands on the scene. Their innovative arrangements, close harmonies, and country influences have made them popular with lovers of bluegrass, country, and roots music. This EP may only be 21 minutes long, but they pack a lot of music into the set's seven tracks. "Other Side of Lonesome" looks at the economic downturn with a bit of wry humor driven by Randall Massengill's lead vocal and chiming acoustic guitar with Stuart Wyrick's sparse and driving banjo adding to the song's drive. "I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water," a hit for Stonewall Jackson, gets a smoking bluegrass remake with Mike Ramsey contributing a soulful vocal and fine mandolin work; guest player Brandon Bostic contributes a fine Dobro solo. "Mustang Minnie" sounds like Mustang Sally's poor cousin; Massengill sings the tune with a wink and a nod while the band trades off short concise solos. There's a hint of Texas swing in Preston Schmidt's fiddling on "The Guitar," the story of a working musician in Nashville that saves Massengill's tasty fretwork till the last few minutes of the performance. "That's You" is a touching love song written by Wyrick, who drops a restrained, syncopated banjo solo into the arrangement.

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