Boulder, Col. isn't often mistaken as a hotbed of Appalachian or Americana music, but the city's darlings known as The Railsplitters might be making a case for that city holding that moniker. In fact, the group in time could give Alison Krauss and Union Station a run for their money judging by this impressive latest release. On the punchy opening track "Tilt-A-Whirl," lead singer Lauren Stovall and her stellar band mates sound as if they're in a half-circle around one old microphone. Here Stovall definitely brings to mind a bit of Krauss, a little less of Emmylou Harris and a trace of British folkster Kate Rusby. Meanwhile, mandolin maestro Pete Sharpe and upright bass player Leslie Ziegler complement the number perfectly.
From there, things slow down a bit during "Salt Salt Sea" with its ragtime-lite feel. Throughout it all Stovall's crystal clear yet at times fragile delivery makes it all work so incredibly well. A fine example of that is in the meat of the album with "You," a song Stovall shines on while the musicians are given ample time to strut their stuff. The soulful-leaning "It's A Little Late" has more fine mandolin work thanks to Sharpe while its pace is a mellow amble more than anything else. Think of Australian folk trio The Waifs and you might get a better picture of this song's feel.
While there's not a lot sonically to pick from in terms of experimentation, it's quite evident what The Railsplitters do they do quite well. "Planted On The Ground" doesn't reinvent the musical wheel but tends to accentuate the positives Stovall, Sharpe, Ziegler, Christine King (fiddle) and banjo picker Dusty Rider all bring to the table. Perhaps the crowning achievement is "Met That Day," a lazy Sunday afternoon kind of nugget, which flies in direct contrast to the up-tempo instrumental "Goosetown."
The lone bump in the road is near the closing when Stovall tries to make a jazzy impression during "Tell Me." It's the kind of Patsy Cline or Connie Francis old-school number best left to those late aforementioned legends and few others. The fact it's also nearly five minutes is not a plus, making it even more arduous to listen to. Fortunately the silver lining is how sweet and endearing "Seasons" comes across, bringing it almost full circle to the opening track.