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Rick Shea and Brantley Kearns

Trouble and Me – 2002 (Tres Pescadores)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Rick Shea and Brantley Kearns

Rick Shea and Brantley Kearns have stepped away from their duties as members of Dave Alvin's Guilty Men long enough to record this intimate and gorgeous half originals/half covers all authentic country blues/bluegrass album.

They show they are no mere "O Brother" come latelies as the songs that they've written are woven to perfection in among the traditional compositions by everyone from E.J. and Maybelle Carter to Harlan Howard. It's no surprise that Shea and Kearns have a unique chemistry between them; Shea's solo albums have been wonderful representations of his California country and folk heritage and Kearns' North Carolina bluegrass roots are the perfect complement to them.

The blending of the two talents barely shows the stitches between the Carters' "Loafer's Glory" and Shea's own "Parish Road" or the traditional "Sail Away Ladies" and Kearns' old timey "Ain't It Almost the Old Times (Lovin' Like Yesterday)." Production by Shea and bossman Alvin is sympathetically stripped down and unadorned, allowing the purity of the music's intent to shine through. (Box 4, Anaheim, Ca 92815-0004,