The second release from Tallahassee, Fla. guitarist Leo Kotick and his studio band The Sharp Flatpickers is an eclectic mix of originals with well-chosen covers and public domain standards. Bluegrass is at the core of the mostly instrumental project with elements of blues, jazz and country mixed in.
One of Kotick's musical heroes, David Grisman, is well represented with covers of "16...16" that in particular spotlights brothers Jarrod Walker on mandolin and Cory Walker on banjo, and "Eat My Dust" which Kotick references in the liner notes by noting that while often recorded the tune "never gets old, or in the way" in an homage to Grisman's early '70s band.
Kotick's original title track again allows Jarrod Walker to shine on mandolin along with Bryan McDowell on fiddle and Gavin Largent on Dobro. McDowell is joined by fellow fiddler Kate Lee O'Connor on slick covers of "Cattle in the Cane" and "Red Haired Boy," while Kotick and fellow guitarist Jake Stargel trade licks on "Arkansas Traveller."
Bluegrass luminaries Claire Lynch and Ronnie Bowman are on hand to offer perhaps the strongest tune on the album with Lynch's original country weeper "Goodbye Again" featuring smooth harmonies in the tradition of George and Tammy about a failing on/off relationship ("There's something I can see/Sadly familiar when you look at me"). The other vocal tracks are the bluesy take on the Hoagy Carmichael/Stuart Gorrell classic "Georgia" by Mallory Eagle and Forrest O'Connor with the sweetly sentimental Rice Brothers' ballad "Keep the Lamp on Sadie."
With strong performances throughout and tasteful production by Kotick and Stargell, "Sundrops on the Water" makes for a fun and compelling listen.