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Southern Rail

Wasting My Time – 1998 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Jonathan Colcord

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CDs by Southern Rail

Quartet singing, brother duets and good, solid songs are the underpinnings of Boston bluegrassers Southern Rail. With their previous effort a gospel affair, this is billed as a secular release. It does, however, offer four good helpings of the band's trademark gospel fare. A collectively written a cappella "Jonah's Whale" showcases some fine four-part harmony, while Jim Muller's "40 Days, 40 Nights" has a driving, lonesome bluegrass edge.

Some superb song writing is to be found here. Producer Paul Trianosky wrote three songs, including "Ask Your Heart," carrying a melody similar to Alison Krauss' "Steel Rails." Aubrey Haynie is featured and provides sweet fiddle to the mix throughout the album. Two new band members debut - Jim's brother Paul does a wonderful job on banjo, while Bob Sachs is on mandolin. All contribute fine vocal work as well.

Sharon Horovitch's rock-solid bass playing, and high-harmony are the glueanchoring these songs, rooted just on the contemporary side of traditional. The band also offers arrangements of some old gems including the Delmore Brothers, "When The Roses Bloom Again," Jim Eanes "Freight Train #9" and the traditional "Drifting Too Far From The Shore." New faces and good solid musicianship make this a step forward.