No Speed Limit

Sweet Virginia

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Thanks to bluegrass' broader commercial acceptance, a new bluegrass band, promising to relate to the here and now while drawing from the deep roots of tradition, appears on the scene every day. This uneasy alliance between the rustic hills of Kentucky and the sound studios of L.A. is an uneasy one, and the results often fall short of the publicity department's brochures. No Speed Limit seems to escape many of the entrapments of contemporary bluegrass on Sweet Virginia, apparently lacking the pretensions of most of its peers. The band's ace in the hole is Amber Collins, a soulful, gutsy singer who sticks much closer to tradition than Alison Krauss and Rhonda Vincent. Her full-throated vocals gives the impression on the title track and "Blue Ridge Mountain Home" that she's just doing her thing as opposed to worrying about how she might sound on the radio or CMT. It helps considerably that banjoist Steve Barr, guitarist Josh Pickett, mandolinist Ryan Blevins, and bassist Jacob Eller are hot pickers who play well together as a band. There are smoother moments on Sweet Virginia, as with the duet on "New East Virginia Blues," that sound a little too "pretty" and too much like other contemporary bluegrass acts. Overall, though,Sweet Virginia is a solid introduction to a non-typical bluegrass band.

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