The Boxcars - All In
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All In (Mountain Home, 2012)

The Boxcars

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

Without argument, The Boxcars have quickly become one of the prominent bands in bluegrass. Their songs receive considerable airplay, they maintain a packed touring schedule, and they receive about as much press as anyone this side of Steve Martin. With their second album, the quintet of John R. Bowman (fiddle), Keith Garrett (guitar), Harold Nixon (bass), Adam Steffey (mandolin) and Ron Stewart (banjo) have again succeeded in producing an album that is rich in material and performance.

Garrett may be the band's secret weapon. A lead vocalist of considerable renown, previously with Blue Moon Rising, Garrett also contributes four. While he didn't write too many for BMR (Jeffrey's Hell, the coonhound song which kicks off this album goes back more than a decade to BMR's debut), Garrett keeps The Boxcars knee-deep in quality material.

I'm Over You, a lonesome number disguised by a jaunty melody, has already appeared on various bluegrass charts. Stewart's fiddle colors the mood of Garrett's even lonesomer Still Good at Crying Over You.

Meanwhile, Bowman sings the pieces out of the redemptive Prison (written by the Isaacs sisters Sonya and Becky), and Steffey sings a couple, including Born and Raised in Covington and Stewart's tragically excellent Crawford County, with his distinctive power.

Instrumentally, "All In" possesses the precision and flair one expects of the highest-quality bluegrass recordings. As bass players go, Nixon is one of the finest, and he strengthens The Boxcars' foundation from the bottom end. Garrett's guitar work is notable throughout, especially on tunes such as Born and Raised in Covington, Old Hollow Tree and the Steffey instrumental, That's What She Said.

"All In" is another first-rate recording from The Boxcars.

CDs by The Boxcars

Familiar With The Ground, 2016 All In, 2012 The Boxcars, 2010

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