There must be something - something pleasant - in the Virginia air these days. Maybe the James River has turned to whiskey, maybe the blue crabs have returned to Chesapeake Bay. Roanoke residents Aaron Parker and Daniel Bivins - collectively known as Red Clay River - invite us over through an album immersed in Virginian history, dark like soil and strong like 101 proof corn whiskey.
"Rattlesnake Mountain" doesn't sound like the most welcoming opener. Neither it should. A good sign of a band's quality is when you struggle to differentiate between their own compositions and their interpretations of traditional Appalachian folk songs. "We Don't Like No Company Men" - curdling with Southern Gothic simplicity and spit - stands up pretty well against traditional folk standards like "Satisfied". Daniel Bivins' whiskeyed drone is exactly as you would imagine a porch musician. No voice coaches here, this is strictly from the heart. Exactly what you want from a bluegrass album.
This album has a steady flow. Imagine yourself floating on a barge down a narrow brook, miasmal forestry and the distant howls of the wildlife and the swamp musicians on either side of you. From beginning to end, this album plays like a free-flowin' waterway. Let the liquour flow!
For bluegrass enthusiasts, this album is a must have. The duo incorporate a truly menacing value into their music, and the album is all the better for it. Available from CD Baby.