Ever get the feeling that you were born in the wrong continent? If music in Virginia can be judged by the music of the Hackensaw Boys, this reviewer may well be packing his bags! "Look Out!" is the latest statement of intent from the Charlottesville sextet.
So, what makes this album so damn good? Is it the droning, huddled vocals of the group? Salvage's wonderfully-named charismo ("an instrument of portable junk")? The often meaningless but nonetheless fun lyrics? Nope. The Hackensaw Boys have created an album that, more through a sense of togetherness than anything else, stands as one of the best modern bluegrass CDs to reach UK shores.
The fun begins on "Look Our Dog, Slow Down Train", a track that serves as an instant hangover cure. Love slows things down substantially on the brooding "Oh Girl", but "F.D.R" kick-starts the engine again and it just keeps on a-rollin'. The soul-cleaning rendition of "Gospel Plow" stands out - but only just - as the best track on the album. To hear their version is to have the fear of God struck into you, or near enough. "Just One Change" proves a fittingly frenzied send-off, leaving the listener craving just one more song, like a penniless alcoholic. Is it strange I should bring that up?
Bluegrass will always have its devotees, just as it will have its detractors. To anyone with a modicum of bluegrass inclination, this album is a must have. It's almost senseless to ignore it.