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Review: Carpenter & May, Carpenter & May

Carpenter & May
Carpenter & May
[Violin Shop Records (2010)]

For the last thirty years or so, fiddler and mandolin player Fred Carpenter has toured and recorded with The Tony Rice Unit, The Dillards, Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea, and half a dozen others. For his part, guitarist Tim May has toured with Patty Loveless and John Cowan. He also spent fifteen years with bluegrass band Crucial Smith before forming Plaidgrass. A few years ago, May joined with Carpenter, and this self-titled album, with bassist Charlie Chadwick, is their debut. The album features seven instrumentals, including Gershwin’s “Lady Be Good,” and the traditional tunes “Cherokee Shuffle,” “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” and “Soldiers Joy/Fishers Hornpipe.” The pair share vocal duties on songs like “We Can Work It Out,” “What a Wonderful World,” and “Miss the Mississippi.” Everything is impeccably understated and without pretension. Anyone seeking an alternative to blazing bluegrass and slick Nashvegas sounds could find what they’re looking for right here.

—Paul E. Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)

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