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Published: 2006/04/16
by Matt Brockett

Faces – Blueground Undergrass

Landslide Records 1033
Blueground Undergrass is back and as infectious as ever on Faces, a solid collection of originals and soulful covers. The opening ‘Faces’ is a classic catchy original from the Reverend Jeff Mosier, featuring his trademark impeccable vocal timing, while David Blackmon’s impressive fiddle work lays down the bluegrass foundation. Guy Clark’s ‘Dublin Blues,’ the first of four cover songs on Faces is the quintessential country-western ‘good love gone bad’ story. The bouncy ‘In This Life’ and surprising jazz-funk of ‘Our Feet’ are the work of the group’s other main songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Matthew Williams.
As if the vocal harmonies, bass work, and banjo pickin’ on "Clock Goes On" weren’t praiseworthy enough, the song proves once again that crafting upbeat, honest, emotional tunes is what Blueground Undergrass does best. The optimistic Williams composition, "Like Discovering The Ocean" is followed by the warm and traditional sounding "Renee," and then comes the beautifully textured "Potter’s Wheel." The dark ambience it creates feels almost Civil War-era, and it’s unique sound helps add even more depth to the diverse BGUG catalog.
Ralph Stanley’s "Clinch Mountain Backstep" gets a modern treatment with some electric guitar and crazy bass work. At first the effort proves exactly why electric guitar isn’t normally played with bluegrass tunes, but eventually it clicks and the earlier awkward efforts soon become forgivable. For "Ole Love Ole Tune," an uplifting spaced-out journey, Mosier invites along his friends and former Aquarium Rescue Unit bandmates, Col. Bruce Hampton on pedal steel, and Jimmy Herring on guitar, as well as Gary "El Buho" Gazaway on trumpet. El Buho then lends his horn to the closing "Black Muddy River," giving an interesting, somber twist to BGUG’s take on the Grateful Dead staple.

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