Bluegrass has a longstanding tradition of the performers singing around one microphone. Buffalo Rose isn’t strictly a bluegrass band, although the instrumentation is similar to bluegrass. However, on the new album Borrowed and Blue: Live around One Microphone, the members show that they have the skill to carry on that particular tradition. Make no mistake. It takes considerable skill to be able to harmonize around a single microphone. You appreciate it even more when you realize that the band did each song in one take on this album.
You can see right away that the band doesn’t adhere strictly to tradition. After all, not many string bands cover Madonna as this band does with a version of “Borderline.” Not surprisingly, this is quite a bit different than the original version. The vocals are pure, and it is interesting to hear this song featuring dobro and upright bass.
Perhaps you don’t think “powerhouse performance” goes with a string band. You might think differently after hearing “Rocketship.” Not only is there some fine picking on this song, but the vocals carry a tremendous amount of power considering the song was recorded live. Don’t be surprised if the vocals give you goosebumps.
“Journey” is a study in contrasts. It starts out as an uptempo foot stomper with the guitar taking on something of a punk feel in this song while the bass keeps it chugging along. Then the tempo slows down and the harmony vocals sound suitable for church. The sound swirls in the instrumental break before returning to the slower tempo. It is a change in tempo and mood that you don’t find in many songs.
The closer is further evidence that this band doesn’t adhere to tradition. It is a mash-up of “Seven Nation Army” and “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”. If you’re thinking that’s an interesting combination, you’re not wrong. It’s kind of mind-bending when you hear the lyrics of “Sweet Dreams” over the melody of “Seven Nation Army.” Not to mention it kind of boggles the mind how much time they must have spent rehearsing this one to get it right in one take.
This album is only six songs, but the members of the band show a lot in just a short time. The vocals are always spot-on and pretty, and the melodies are well-crafted. In a way, recording around one microphone was probably more difficult than going into a studio, but the band members managed the degree of difficulty and nailed it. Borrowed and Blue: Live around One Microphone will be available everywhere on May 29. Order your copy here.
Bryce Rabideau – mandolin
Shane McLaughlin – guitar, harmonies,
Malcolm Inglis – dobro
Jason Rafalak – upright bass
Lucy Clabby – harmonies
Rosanna Spindler – harmonies