The Fire That Burns

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The seventh album from Midwest duo Switchback has a definite Celtic sound oozing from it despite the duo's bluegrass or Americana delivery. "The Farmer Leaves the Dell" is a cross of bluegrass and folk but tends to end far too abruptly. "Connemara Man" picks up the pace and shows some nimble fingerpicking, with the tune closely resembling the Waterboys or a Mike Scott solo project. The song would be even better though with the drums being replaced by a bodhran. The duo has an acute sense of what works, mixing various bits of traditional genres while sounding contemporary and highly original. The title track has a beginning like Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road" before moving back into a relaxing tone. "Apple of My Eye" could be mistaken for a Blue Rodeo or Wilco alt-country shuffle and is one of the highlights of the 11 tracks presented. Switchback aren't afraid to change tempos, especially with the galloping "One Heart," which features pretty harmonies. "Genevieve" misses the mark namely because it goes for a slick new country "rap" style that is quite dreadful. The slow country duet with Maggie Fitzgerald during "In My Glory" tends to go about a minute longer than it should, but it still very strong. The musicianship is obvious throughout the album, but a tune like "Wild Irish Polkas" clearly exemplifies how stellar the playing is. "The Has-Been That Never Was," which has crickets in the background, seems a fitting finale to this above-average album.

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