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Monday, April 7

Album Review: The Infamous Stringdusters - Let It Go - April 1st, 2014

The Infamous Stringdusters  
Let It Go 
(High Country/Thirty Tigers)
 4/1/2014

 A wise man once said, “I recently had somebody get in touch with me, and they were talking about the future of bluegrass music. Where is bluegrass headed? And I said, ‘As long as the Infamous Stringdusters get some recognition, we’re in good hands.’” That man was Jeff Austin in Nashville, Tennessee, January 28, 2011, when he invited dobro player Andy Hall on stage to play a few tunes (with Todd Snider as well, but that’s a whole other story). I was in the audience and had never heard of the Stringdusters before. Later that year, I saw the Stringdusters open for Railroad Earth and Yonder Mountain String Band at Red Rocks Amphitheater, and I knew that these guys had something special going for them. The five-piece string band has certainly proven this over the past few years. 
The Stringdusters’ fifth studio album, entitled Let It Go, was just released April 1st and fans everywhere couldn’t more the excited about the direction of this new stash of material. Recorded in a cabin near Charlottesville, VA and self produced, the eleven track record sets a new bar for the genre we have now come to know and love, or love to know simply as jamgrass.  All eleven tracks are written by the groundbreaking quintet and they stamp their name all over it.  Let It Go opens with a ballad called “I’ll Get Away.” The relatively simple verses give way to a sea of vocal harmony for the chorus. The tune is rounded off with a beautiful solo section. “Where The Rivers Run Cold” picks up the pace, while still keeping a ballad feel. The band continues to belt out the vocal harmonies. “Winds of Change” lays down a dirty groove that will definitely make you get down. There is plenty of room for some long jams in this tune. The Stringdusters slow things back down with “Rainbows,” a short, beautiful song about reaching for hope and happiness. Getting towards the middle of the album, “Summercamp” is a frothy, light-hearted tune about meeting at summer camp and falling in love. As a former summer camp counselor who is about to marry a girl who I met working there, I can definitely relate! A solid fiddle solo reveals some potential for live jams in this one as well. “Middlefork” splits the album in half with a passionate instrumental tune. In classic Stringdusters fashion, each member of the band gets a chance to lead and showcase their talents. 
“By My Side” is a heartfelt song about loneliness, with a deceptively bright timbre flowing from the instruments. A shout-out to one of the greatest states in the country, “Colorado” serves up some more magnificent vocal harmonies, topped off with some funky solo sections. “Peace of Mind” is a funky, groovin’ tune, highly representative of a couple of their primary predecessors on the jamgrass scene. “Light & Love” emits as much radiation as is described in the lyrics through its beautifully arranged instrumental backing and vocal harmony. “Let It Go” finishes off the album with a primarily vocal tune bidding us listeners to let go of our worries and all those things we cannot control, a wonderful message to end on. Overall, I think bluegrass fans should be very excited for the future of the Infamous Stringdusters. Let It Go shows a strong sense of musicianship, versatility and dedication, not to mention a huge amount of potential for live improvisation. I know I’ve said a good bit about the vocals already, but man can this band sing! The harmonies throughout the entire album continually wrench emotion from the listener. These guys are definitely in full swing. I have to agree with Jeff Austin on this one. The Infamous Stringdusters are sure to keep the bluegrass spirit alive.
Words: Ragin' Randy Harris
©Grateful Music LLC