All In

The Boxcars

Mountain Home, 2012

REVIEW BY: Curtis Jones


All In is the sophomore album from 2010's breakout bluegrass group the Boxcars. The Boxcars excited numerous bluegrass fans with their hard-driving style that comfortably straddles traditional and progressive bluegrass, with virtuosic musicianship. After several awards and what seemed like a terribly long time for a bluegrass group to wait between albums, they offered my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 All In.

In many ways All In is a repeat of the successful formula of their eponymous debut.  But this approach runs the risk of sounding stale, especially in the bluegrass genre which relies heavily on tried and true themes and song structure. Thankfully, the group freshens this approach with some truly virtuoso instrumental solos and Adam Steffey proving his award-winning mandolin chops over and over again.

"I'm Over You" is probably the strongest track on the album and one of the most unique in the realm of chord structure that bluegrass can produce. This coupled with humorous lyrics make this a catchy song that is hard to get over. "Crawford County" is a touching story song about two orphan kids who end up at the wrong place at the wrong time while trying to hunt for food during the depression. "That's What She Said" is an impressive instrumental that shows some exhilarating mandolin and guitar work that would make lesser musicians drool.  John Bowman also reprises his gospel roots with a crystal clear "Prison" as the lone religious track.

Like any group from any genre coming off of an extremely well-received debut, the Boxcars are trapped in an expectations game that is hard to win. But as the name implies, All In shows the group relying on what gave them success in the first place while also showing that they have other good cards they can play too.  Hopefully they can build on those strengths and that success.

Rating: B-

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© 2012 Curtis Jones and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mountain Home, and is used for informational purposes only.