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Adrienne Young and Little Sadie
The Art Of Virtue
Addiebelle Records

I always get a kick out of references that among my circle of [fairly well-educated] friends I seem to be the only one that understands… the only one that gets the joke, as it were. When I first heard the title track from Adrienne Young's The Art Of Virtue, I immediately made the connection to the Benjamin Franklin text of the same name... the book that I had spent many hours reading through as a younger adult. But I guessed that I was the only person who read the book, and so figured that Ms. Young must have been going for something else when she titled her album. Imagine how excited I was when I learned, by opening this CD and finding a small pamphlet with the words "And all that occur'd to Benjamin Franklin at that time to be necessary or desirable" that Adrienne Young knew my joke. And she was keen enough to enclose this little book extolling the "Thirteen Virtues" as originally espoused by Franklin as a part of her new record… which earns you big points in my book, missy.

The Art Of Virtue is fifteen tracks of pure bluegrass gospel bliss - tracks that yearn for something higher and better with every note and every breath. The title track has a very updated-yet-traditional sounding bluegrass style, replete with brilliant fiddle playing and dynamic vocals that sit easily atop a shiny bed of rhythm. If this song doesn't get your toes tapping, you should probably consult a doctor. "Hills & Hollers" conscientiously tackles the problem of the America's disappearing farms and ranches, being replaced by cities and sprawl. My favorite moment of the record comes on the dimly illuminated dirge of "My Sin Is Pride". This song is filled with excellent harmony vocals, and a sense of purpose that rises above most all of the music that I've heard in the past year. In its brief, yet purposeful, moments, the song serves to hit directly in the heart, reminding of lost opportunities and tears shed over occurrences that seem so insignificant in retrospect. This is one of those songs that belong in that tightly closed circle of classics that reminds each of us of the preciousness of life and our loved ones, and how it can all be gone in a quick moment.

Adrienne has assembled quite a little cast of musicians to help her out on this record. Will Kimbrough adds his unique and superb talents on guitar, also lending a hand producing the record, I would guess. Tim O'Brien sings some vocals and lays his skilled hand on the bouzouki (such a cool instrument) while Matthew Combs saws away remarkably on the fiddle. Adrienne displays not only her talent for songwriting and singing - her voice is heavenly, akin to Alison Krauss, only a touch sweeter - but also her concrete grasp on banjo picking. There are a few moments on the record where this collected talent outshines the need for vocals to carry a song. "Bonaparte's Retreat" and "Golden Ticket" are instrumental moments of bluegrass bliss, the music attaining that perfect balance amongst all its contained parts that easily sets it far distant from much of the contemporary newgrass scene.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Art Of Virtue
2. Bonaparte's Retreat/My Love Is In America
3. Hills And Hollers
4. Jump The Broom
5. My Sin Is Pride
6. My Love Will Keep
7. Ella Arkansas
8. Rastus Russell
9. Wedding Rings
10. Don't Get Weary
11. Golden Ticket
12. Walls Of Jericho
13. It's All The Same
14. Farther Along/Billy In The Low Ground
15. Brokedown Palace

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