Alison de Groot is a banjo player best known for her work in Molsky’s Mountain Drifters. Tatianna Hargreaves is a violinist who has played with Gillian Welch. The two artists have come together to create an album of traditional bluegrass sounds complete with excellent picking and great harmonies.
One of the most impressive things about bluegrass is just how quickly the players can pick. This duo doesn’t waste any time in displaying their proficiency with their instruments. In the first song “Eighth of January,” de Groot tears it up on the banjo while Hargreaves saws on the fiddle. You can’t help but be impressed with just how fast and clean they play. Other instrumental songs like “Farewell Whiskey” and “Dry” are just as impressive. The way the songs are recorded makes you feel like you’re in the studio with the duo.
When the songs have lyrics, they certainly are memorable. The second song includes the lyrics, “I don’t want to get married. I just want to be free.” “Beaufort County Jail” (originally recorded by Alice Gerrard) is a hard-hitting song that tells the story of a jailed black woman who finds “no mercy in a white man’s jail.”
It’s not just the lyrics that make the vocals memorable. “Who Wouldn’t Be Lonely?” features some harmony vocals that stand along with your favorite classic bluegrass artists.
When you listen to classic bluegrass like Flatt and Scruggs, you notice how frequently they get your foot stomping with their uptempo songs. Get ready to do some foot stompin’ when you hear “Buffalo Gals.” This one moves along at a tempo that makes it impossible to remain still. If your doctor has been telling you to get some exercise, put this song on because it is sure to get your heart rate up.
This is very much a traditional sound with a lot of instrumentals that showcase the talents of these two artists. The album is only 34 minutes long, but de Groot and Hargreaves pack a lot of amazing picking into that relatively brief time. Fans of traditional bluegrass are sure to enjoy all 34 minutes. This self-titled album (Free Dirt Records) will be available everywhere on March 22. Order your copy here.