Once In A Bluegrass Moon

Blue Cactus Choir

Porgy Records, 2012

http://bluecactuschoir.com

REVIEW BY: David Bowling

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/13/2013

Sometimes, a good idea is really a good idea. And so it was when Katy Boyd and Marty Atkinson decided to join together and form Blue Cactus Choir. The result of that union is Once In A Bluegrass Moon.

Marty Atkinson is a bluegrass musician who spent over a decade as a member of the Cactus Choir.  Katy Boyd’s last studio album, Paper Hearts, which was a modern folk album with some country leanings. Together, they meet somewhere in the middle. Their united sound fuses the instruments of bluegrass, the lyrics of folk, and the smooth production of modern country. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

They were in a prolific mood when they assembled the album as they wrote all 21 of the tracks. They were also wise enough to assemble many of the leading Nashville musicians to support them. They included banjo/mandolin/fiddle player Justin Moses and bassist Mark Fein, both of whom play in Ricky Skaggs’ band, plus steel guitarist Fats Kaplin, pianist Gary Smith, drummers Lynn Williams & Steve Brewster, and guitarist/keyboardist Thomm Jutz.

The album is a fairly mellow affair, the tracks meandering along in a cohesive manner. The listening experience is enhanced by the production and engineering, which is just about perfect. Each instrument is distinct and the vocals are crystal clear.

The songs feature Boyd or Atkinson on lead vocal and both joining together on the harmonies. Marty Atkinson has a wonderfully clear traditional country voice while Boyd’s is grittier.  While they may seem like different styles, when they combine, the harmonies are tight and wonderful.

“Blue Moon Over Mexico” and “Avalon” are the first tracks and establish the style and tempo for what will follow.  Atkinson’s clear voice presents the story, which leads to their harmonies. The constant use of a fiddle gives many of the tracks a poignant sound.

Several of Boyd’s tracks, such as “A Cat Called Ginger And A Dog Called Fred Astaire” and “Don’t Send Me Flowers,” are catchy with witty and incisive lyrics.

Their most adventurous track is “Where Do I Belong,” which has a slightly harder edge and veers into a country/rock sound.

The Blue Cactus Choir has released an excellent debut album that presents their distinctive sound. It is music that wears well through multiple listens and leaves you wanting more.

Rating: B+

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