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Heidi & Ryan

Heidi & Ryan – 2016 (Mountain Fever)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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There's a strong taste of Dolly Parton in the music of Heidi and Ryan Greer, formerly known as the Kentucky Mountain Trio before downsizing to a duo. From singer Heidi Greer's voice, which can swing from full-throated to a delicate warble, to the down home stories of family and faith in the duo's songs, that Tennessee mountain home style is never far. Nominally a bluegrass act, the arrangements are more light acoustic fare with bluegrass instrumentation, never quite rising to the flashier instrumental level of their peers.

Besides Parton, Greer's other obvious touchstone is Alison Krauss, so much so that it's unfortunate that a classic rock tune that Krauss also covered, Bad Company's "Oh Atlanta," puts in an appearance here as well with a similarly bluesy spin.

There's plenty to like about what's going on here, however, no matter what genre it does or doesn't resemble. The harmonies between husband and wife on the contemporary gospel number "Come To Jesus" are as heavenly as the subject matter, and "Pictures" has a nicely uptempo, mandolin-driven snappiness to it. The band's relatively subdued throughout, only stepping up on a few tunes such as the fiery Doyle Lawson gospel tune "Fire Down Yonder."

The Greers have established a solid, easy to listen to identity on this duo debut; unfortunately it doesn't come across as original or out of the shadow of their readily apparent influences.