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Carrie Hassler - Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain
Review By: Jim Moulton, CSO Staff Journalist

I discovered Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain by receiving a mailing from a new PR company I had requested an artist mailing from. Never heard of her. I really am glad that I got this CD because she really impressed me from song one. There is so much good stuff going on in Bluegrass today. You have your traditionalists like Del Coury and Ricky Skaggs and more new grass stuff like The Duhks and The Greencards. 

Hassler's CD sounds like she likes Alison Krauss a lot as I can hear her influences in the disc. Jim Van Cleve, from Mountain Heart and Solo Artist for Rural rhythm Records produced this and plays a lot on it. Basically, it is both Mountain Heart and Hassler's Hard Rain playing on this album. 

Honestly, this has more of a pop type sound and is not quite as polished as an Alison Krauss or Greencards recordings, but the quality is excellent, my only beef is sometimes there are so many instruments, it gets in the way of the vocals. Cleve uses lots of special effects on the instruments like some compression and chorus, which I like. Hassler has lots of great material here, but I think the recording is too busy in many spots, like on the instrumental "Sensabaugh Tunnel", there is a dual guitar spot, mandolin, fiddle, the music is almost frenetic, everyone sounds like they are in a race, rather than trying to blend together, just my thought.

"Least That I Can Do" is a slow gospel tune that is sparse with nice harmonies, the four part harmony sounds great with some very inspiring lyrics. 

"Hard Rain" is a nice mid tempo song that is my opinion a bit overproduced with too much going on and the vocals should be louder. Real nice melody with a modern pop sound.

"Now That She's Gone" - This is a beauty of a sad story song. Nice production, not overdone. Just guitar, mandolin, Dobro and bass with vocals. Really, this is a good sounding disc, but there are small things that would sound better with a major label budget and sound. I have heard many recordings a lot worse than this, overall the sound is smooth and clean.

"Leaving On Your Mind" - Hassler does a great job on this old country classic. The strings have a nice touch.

"Leaving You Behind" is another mid tempo love song with a pop influence to it. A lot of the melodies are similar on these songs with same type of production, but that's bluegrass, you can get caught up in the genre and that is okay.

Hassler has a very nice voice that needs to be the main attraction, not all of the instruments. Would love to hear her make a CD with just her band or some top sessions players like Bryan Sutton, Jerry Douglas, Larry Franklin and so on. 
This gal has a future and some good friends like Rhonda Vincent in the bluegrass world. This CD is doing well several months after release. 

To order this CD, click the cover above.

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