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Saturday, January 23, 2010


320 KBPS

Virginia based Furnace Mountain describe their style as 'Ethno-Appalachian Roots Music'. The band typically performs arrangements of traditional songs with a few original compositions thrown in for good measure. While this isn't usually a recipe for widespread success or acclaim, 'Fields of Fescue' is a bold and energetic album featuring some stunning performances and catchy melodies that deserves to be heard by anyone with even a passing interest in traditional, roots or folk music.
'Fields of Fescue' is the closest you'll get to pop Roots music. The songs are all tightly performed, kept under four minutes and generally at upbeat, foot-stomping tempos, though slower moments such as 'Graveyard / John Brown's Dream' provide a nice balance. The instrumental tracks, especially the eponymous 'Fields of Fescue' really demonstrate the talent of the musicians involved. David Van Deventer's fiddle playing is practically flawless throughout and Danny Knicely's mandolin work has to be heard to be believed - some of the runs on 'Turbo Dog' would make Yngwie Malmsteen sweat. There are lots of talented roots acts out there, however, and what makes Furnace Mountain stand out are the twin vocals of Aimee Curl and Morgan Morrison. Curl's vocals are very reminiscent of Joanna Newsom, whose fan-base would be well advised to listen to Furnace Mountain. Generally the wandering fractured nasal style provides an intriguing counterpoint to Curl's steady double bass work, but like Newsom, there are moments when it all sounds a little too affected, especially at the beginning of 'Ooh Belle'. Morrison's vocals are a softer, huskier complement and when the two work together, as on 'Bad Girl' it is a genuine aural treat.
A lot of bands are cashing in on the saleability of folk music these days. Furnace Mountain are a welcome reminder of how contemporary musicians can work in harmony with traditional music, thriving on its strengths and keeping it alive for a new generation.

1. Fields of Fescue
2. Rattlesnake/Black Mountain Rag
3. Winter's Night
4. Pretty Little Widow
5. Graveyard/John Brown's Dream
6. Bad Girl
7. Turbo Dog
8. Factory Girl
9. Ooh Belle
10. Watermelon Seed
11. Bowling Green
12. Sugar in the Gourd

1 comment:

Janov Pelorat said...

The whole album is a pearl. A real good discovery.