Album Review

Allowing Peter Rowan and Tony Rice to front a small acoustic band is a shortcut to creating a bluegrass-folk supergroup. Few bluegrass-folk vocalists achieve Rowan's rich, resonant delivery, and while he's certainly a "good" singer, he maintains weathered edges that make him a good (read "authentic") folksinger. Rice's guitar style, equally melodic and nimble, warmly wraps itself around Rowan's vocals. These winning attributes, however, only begin to explain the carefully woven tapestry of Quartet, a richly realized folk recording. Both bassist/vocalist Bryn Davies and mandolinist/vocalist Sharon Gilchrist add considerably to the spaciousness of the sound and intricate interplay between the four musicians. Davies and Gilchrist's vocal harmony likewise supplies an additional emotional layer on "Dust Bowl Children" and "To Live Is to Fly." While the songs have been carefully selected, the content of individual lyrics seem to matter less than the tone of Rowan's vocals, the harmony, Rice's lead lines, and the mix of acoustic instruments. Quartet, then, is more about creating an entwined sound with a solid bottom end than lyrical content, and the songs are simply vehicles for that sound. Quartet starts stronger than it ends, but the early material is very strong. While both Rice and Rowan seem more intent in refining earlier stylistic innovations than creating new ones, Quartet's progressive acoustic vision remains fresh and vital.
Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Dust Bowl Children
  2. To Live Is to Fly
  3. The Walls of Time
  4. Shady Grove
  5. Moonlight Midnight
  6. Trespasses
  7. The Sunny Side of the Mountain
  8. Cold Rain and Snow
  9. Guardian Angles
  10. Let the Harvest Go to Seed
  11. Perfection
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