On the Short Rows – The Kickin’ Grass Band
There’s not one thing that stands out and grabs your attention on The Kickin Grass Band’s sophomore release, On the Short Rows. It’s your standard bluegrass mountain music; Wittig Dawson and Jamie Dawson’s voices are infused with the right amount of twang to complement the fiddles, banjoes, and mandolins that are ever-present.
Lead vocals switch between the two Dawsons and upright bassist Patrick Walsh. On “Fairest Rose,” Jamie Dawson pays homage to his ex-girlfriends with a sentimental ballad: “Rose, wait for me please don’t leave/Please don’t break my heart, your love is all I need.” Lynda Dawson who has one of the best female voices I’ve heard in a long time seems a bit love struck herself on the next track, “When My Days are Full of Sorrow.”
But these down-on-the-farm folks don’t sing just about love, there are your other standard bluegrass themes: mama cooking up some good ol’ bread in the frying pan, a hard day’s work on the tobacco farm, death, and so on. There is also a Leadbelly cover, “Rock Island Line,” that the group first heard sung by the legendary Johnny Cash. The Kickin Grass Band definitely does it justice, though no one can quite match Cash.
The bottom line is that On the Short Rows isn’t something to get excited over. It is something to listen to once, anymore than that and you’re going to get bored. It’s a solid effort that’s very, very mediocre.