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Coming Down the Mountain – 2017 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Mipso

Count Mipso among a growing contingent of youthful ensembles aggregating the Americana experience for their generation, a subsection of roots music that includes The Steel Wheels, The Stray Birds and Rhiannon Giddens. What they all have in common is the inclusive nature of their music, which incorporates bluegrass, old-time, folk, blues, country and a little rock 'n' roll, but what sets them apart from other genre-mashing outfits is the seamless way the songs incorporate those influences.

Mipso's fourth album offers a spiritual vibe throughout, not just on the obviously titled "Hallelujah" (not the Leonard Cohen classic). There's an insistent travelogue feeling to "Train Down the Line," with the stuttering snare echoing the titular locomotive that's a metaphor for the changes life brings; the title track offers a more plaintive, pensive take on a similar theme of leaving, then returning. The effect of using Brad Cook (Megafaun) and adding drums and electric instrumentation is to expand the band's capabilities without altering the emotional impact of their songwriting.

The band's strength is how the members blend together, both vocally and instrumentally. Libby Rodenbough stands out on fiddle and vocals, but she's not the only focal point in this well-rounded group. Four-part vocal harmonies and mostly acoustic instrumentation help the band retain its bluegrass roots even as they stray farther away from that source material than ever.