Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Bluegrass [Second Edition]

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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson

Every tradition evolves, and bluegrass is no different. There's newgrass, of course, but even real bluegrass has moved on. This compilation offers both old and new, with some of the major names on the scene, ranging from the legendary Ralph Stanley and the late Hazel Dickens through people like Ricky Skaggs and Peter Rowan to those still making names for themselves, such as Darrell Scott with the wonderful "You'll Never Leave Harland Alive" and the Gibson Brothers. The subject matter of the songs remains the same, and for the most part, newer artists keep to the standard instrumentation, but with more emphasis on the song than on the picking. That's not to say there's a lack of flashy fiddle or mandolin (just listen to "From Now On"), just that the emphasis has shifted, and the high lonesome quality of the voice, once the trademark of bluegrass, has been toned down a little in search of more mainstream success. It's a good encapsulation of bluegrass, enhanced by the slightly rockier sounds of Scott Holstein on a bonus album.

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