Various Artists

Strings and Things: The Best in Bluegrass, Vol. 1

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Vol. 1 in the Nashville-based Dualtone label's Strings and Things: The Best in Bluegrass series is both playful and reverent, collecting contemporary versions of bluegrass, gospel, and old-timey standards as played by some of the genre's finest practitioners. The unmistakable voice of Ralph Stanley lays out some hellfire and brimstone on the a cappella "Listen to the Shepherd," Norman and Nancy Blake implore listeners to keep on "The Sunny Side of Life," Joe and Janette Carter lend a mischievous wink to "Stern Old Bachelor," and June Carter Cash gets some help from her husband, Johnny, on an intimate take of "The Far Side Banks of Jordan" -- Shawn Colvin's lovely rendition of "Single Girl, Married Girl" is incorrectly listed at the number five slot on the CD jacket (it's actually number nine). Strings and Things isn't remarkable, but it's consistently listenable, proving once again the power of this oft-interpreted material, especially when filtered through the souls of such fine performers.

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