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Sam Bush

Circles Around Me – 2009 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by Sam Bush

As a founding member of New Grass Revival, ace mandolin player Sam Bush played a key role in helping to develop a progressive bluegrass voice that broke away from the strict guidelines and conventions of traditional bluegrass music. Although he is primarily known for his spirit of innovation, Bush's latest release, his eighth as a solo artist, is notable because it embraces the traditional roots that first steered him toward bluegrass music.

Along with fresh takes on traditional favorites like Diamond Joe, the rousing fiddle tune Apple Blossom and the classic Midnight on the Stormy Deep, featuring Del McCoury on guitar and vocals, Bush compiled an impressive collection of original and contemporary compositions that tips its hat to the past while still managing to look forward.

Bush's renditions of You Left Me Alone, a song written by Tom Gray and Jerry Stuart, and Roll On Buddy, Roll On, from The Wilburn Brothers, show that he is as sharp as ever when it comes to playing traditional bluegrass music, while Blue Mountain and Junior Heywood, a song Bush co-penned with Edgar Meyer, are longer instrumental passages that allow Bush and his band to continue to explore new musical territories.

Even though it is one of the least traditional songs on the album, the title track with its pop song structure and ultra-catchy chorus simply cannot be ignored.