Straight Paths

Kristin Scott Benson

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Straight Paths Review

by Charles Spano

On her solo debut, Straight Paths, Kristin Scott Benson proves that she is a banjo picker with great clarity and levity. Benson and her band, which includes her husband, Wayne Benson, on mandolin and renowned bluegrass guitarist Jim Hurst, run through an inspiring collection of instrumentals, including progressive originals like the menacing "The Hunt," covers like Jim and Jesse McReynolds' "Fireball Express," and no-nonsense traditionals like the hat tip to the Earl Scruggs tune "Sally Ann." Benson's greatest strength is that she can smoothly move from straight-ahead down-home playing to relaxed riskier picking that owes a debt to Alison Brown. Just listen to her version of "Foggy Mountain Rock" -- it's more laid-back than Flatt & Scruggs' version, soft and a little more ambiguous in its beauty, like sitting on the porch on a foggy mountain morning.

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