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Steep Canyon Rangers - Lovin' Pretty Women
Review By: Jim Moulton, CSO Staff Journalist

This five piece group, known as the Steep Canyon Rangers won last years IBMA emerging artist award. These young men started making music on the campus of the University of North Carolina. Now they have been picked up by Rebel Records and Ronnie Bowman produced this kickin' disc. 

The band is Graham Sharp (banjo, lead vocals, songwriting), Woody Platt (guitar and lead vocals), Charlie Humphrie III (bass and vocals), Mike Guggino (mandolin and vocals) and Nicky Sanders (vocals and fiddle).

I love the sound of this production, no obvious effects, the instruments are natural sounding and it is just plain good sounding disc. Their vocals are tight, the instruments sound sweet. It has a live feel to it. They are advertised as a traditional bluegrass band, but I feel some newgrass and pop influences in their sound.

Lots of songs written by Graham Sharp, lots of upbeat songs, their instruments intertwine in a very focused way. They have the pleasure of Randy Kohr's dobro on several cuts, one of the best. 

I really like Platt's lead vocals, he is a very good guitarist too, mostly playing rhythm. With four backup singers, things get real interesting, especially on "Be Still Moses", just an incredible song.

This band shows what can be done with an ace bluegrass producer and a band that has paid their dues. No instrument really dominates, but leads are mostly mandolin and fiddle. 

Their version of "Don't Ease Me In" (Grateful Dead) is a killer. I love the sound of the slapbass on this song. Real nice mandolin and fiddle and guitar pickin' dominate this song.

"Desperate and Blue" is a real nice ballad by Sharp. This group is really tight.

"KuyKendall" is an instrumental written by their mandolin player, Guggino. It features fiddle playing and mandolin. Just some great texture in the mix. 

Overall, this is truly a great listen, but the banjo and guitar are sort of lost in the mix a lot. Nothin' better than good bluegrass lead guitar, like Tony Rice, Bryan Sutton and so many more. It seems modern groups are getting away from lead guitar and focusing on mandolin and fiddle mostly.

The Steep Canyon Rangers are a very creative five-some and play original music. Don Light discovered them and signed them to a management deal. 

"Pickin' On a Josh" is a great song with some great dobro by Kohrs which seems to be giving tribute to Josh Graves, incredible dobro player.

"A Ramblin' Man Is A Ramblin Man" is the hot opener for the CD. Great story song by Sharp who contributed so much to this disc.

This is a great new band who I think we will be hearing from for a long time, so why don't you check these boys out. Very serious yet fun students of Bluegrass is what they are all about.

Release 8/07 Rebel Records


Click on the CD cover to order it from Amazon.com

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