Various Artists

The Coen Brothers' film "O Brother, Where Art Thou" had a soundtrack that consisted of bluegrass music, a style that the Brothers enjoy personally. The success of that album led to a rash of bluegrass compilations, and "True Bluegrass" is but o­ne of them. A complement to Rounder's other recent release "Bluegrass Mountain Style", "True Bluegrass" provides yet another survey of the traditional Appalachian genre. "I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling" by Joe Val & The Southern Mountain Boys is a moving tune with some incredible harmonies, while Butch Robins' "Sally Goodin" is full of fierce finger-picking and fiddling. "Midnight o­n the Stormy Deep" is a Johnny Cash-like tune and Frank Wakefield's "Sleepy-Eyed John" is a rollicking banjo tune with some incredible, though unexpected riffing. "I'm Leaving Detroit" by Bob Paisley and "The Southern Grass" is a touching account of life as experienced by a Southerner who headed north for more opportunity, but is returning home. The less-inspiring of the bunch are "Heaven" by The Bailey Brothers & The Happy Valley Boys, Connie & Babe and The Backwood Boys' "Home is Where the Heart Is", and Phyllis' Boyens "To Hell with the Land", which o­nly serves to highlight her syrupy voice. What's striking about bluegrass is the way it so vividly captures the life of poor, white, rural Americans; a group that is so often ridiculed and misunderstood. The popularity of bluegrass should shed a new light o­n a colourful and lively culture.

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