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Cliff Waldron

A Little Ways Down the Road – 2003 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Brad San Martin

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CDs by Cliff Waldron

Cliff Waldron is best remembered for a series of albums cut in the early '70s for Rebel Records, which were quite innovative and have aged well. On those early disks, Waldron relaxed the oft-frantic tempo of bluegrass while maintaining the traditional instrumentation. This more laid-back musical direction allowed Waldron to perform songs drawn from outside the bluegrass repertoire, which he did to revalatory effect.

Waldron's latest is a pleasant set, with Waldron's voice particularly warm in its burnished timbre and gentle phrasing. Kudos to Waldron for not replacing his road band with session ringers - though one wonders what some of these tunes would sound like with tighter support from the backing band. The song choices are less ambitious this time around, mostly newly composed tunes and a choice oldie or two. When he does push the envelope, though - such as a gorgeous take on Karla Bonoff's "Home" - that old Waldron glow shines as luminously as ever.