Oliver's Quiet

Sweetwater Reunion

(SWR-CD-001)

A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By Matt Nozzolio

Songs:

Sweetwater Reunion, a Pennsylvania-based band, combines bluegrass instrumentation (guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin and bass) with a folk sensibility. Thirteen of the 15 cuts are original, which is an ambitious undertaking, especially for a band's first effort. Nev Jackson (banjo) wrote eight songs and co-wrote a ninth with Henry Koretzky (mandolin), who also contributed one other song.

Without entering the eternal "What is Bluegrass?" debate, suffice it to say that this collection is more likely to appeal to fans of contemporary folk music. It may also appeal to those whose bluegrass tastes aren't bound by the traditional sound of the Stanley Brothers or Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.

The instrumentalists are solid but not flashy, which is in keeping with the softer edge tone throughout the recording. Among the high spots of "Oliver's Quiet" are the instrumentals: "Grizzlies on the Kenai" and "Woodpecker on the Porch", both written by Nev Jackson. "Grizzlies on the Kenai" is akin to "Monroe's Jerusalem Ridge", while "Woodpecker on the Porch" runs through some nifty chord changes.

"Oliver's Quiet" showcases Jackson's songwriting skills, particularly "Strange Fire", a powerful telling of a biblical tale. The title cut simply and poignantly deals with the plight of a family farm.

The recording and mixing of both instruments and vocals is well-balanced. The electric bass is not overpowering, which can sometimes be the case with some bands.

[Edited by: Lee Rademacher (fromage@calumet.purdue.edu)]

This review is copyrighted by Three Rivers Folklife Society,
1996. It may be reproduced with prior permission and attribution.

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