Album Review

Longview - Deep In The Mountains

Longview - Deep In The Mountains

From Muleskinner and Old & In The Way to the Bluegrass Album Band and the Dreadful Snakes, bluegrass music has produced a handful of short-lived supergroups. Eleven years into their tenure, Longview has fared better than most. Deep In The Mountains, their first album in six years, also reflects a significant lineup change. Veteran members Don Rigsby, James King and Marshall Wilborn are now joined by Lou Reid, Ron Stewart and J.D. Crowe. Although Longview is essentially a side project for everyone involved, the participants obviously take a great deal of pride in their work. Crowe, in particular, doesn't attach his name to anything unless it's top-quality. The musicianship here is impeccable, especially Crowe's banjo picking and Stewart's spot-on fiddling. And in Rigsby, King and Reid, the group has three lead vocalists who are stylistically miles apart. The harmony combinations are plentiful, and Rigsby's keening tenor is, as always, a treat. As with previous Longview projects, this album includes the occasional treasure buried alongside chestnuts from Jim & Jesse and the Louvin Brothers. Randall Hylton's "Room At The Top Of The Stairs", previously recorded by both Ralph Stanley and Leo Kottke, is as soulful as any bluegrass tune ever written. King's weathered rasp is the perfect vehicle for "Georgia Bound". Even Longview's take on "Old Joe Clark" has a few unexpected twists. Some of the older rhythms and melodies can be a tad predictable. It's always nice to hear traditional music well played, but it's nice to be surprised, too.