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Where Purchased: Cowan
“Buckaroo Bluegrass II: Riding Song” by Michael Martin Murphey
The follow-up to Michael Martin Murphey’s Grammy Award-nominated “Buckaroo Bluegrass," “ Buckaroo Bluegrass II: Riding Song” is only bluegrass in the sense that it features all-acoustic bluegrass instrumentation — dobro, mandoline, fiddle, banjo — played by esteemed bluegrass pickers such as Sam Bush, Rob Ickes and Ronny McCoury.
But the songs — the lyrics and themes — come from along the wide Western trails Murphey has been riding so well since the 1980s, instead of the narrow bluegrass paths most ‘grass traditionalists prefer to travel.
With this treatment, a few of his older hits, such as “Backslider’s Wine,” “Cosmic Cowboy,” “Swans Against the Sun” and “Wildfire” will doubtlessly appear on the active songlists of conventional bluegrass bands, even though his overall sound is more from the Rocky Mountains than the Smoky Mountains, where bluegrass music was born.
“Wildfire” is especially engaging in this setting. Featuring golden-voiced Carrie Hassler soloing on the second verse, and adding her impeccable harmony to the already soaring chorus at the end, the beloved career-establishing classic has never sounded better. Or, at least it sounds as good (even my jazz and funk-loving friend, Uncle Turtle, likes it, and that amazes me).
At an age in which most artists of his stature are settling in to rest on their past achievements, with albums like “Buckaroo Bluegrass II,” Murphey just keeps exploring his musical interests and finding new and interesting ways to please the ever growing army of fans he makes along the way.
Overall Rating: 10
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