Sisters - Beth & April Stevens

Sisters

Beth & April Stevens

Rounder CD 0396

Rounder Records
One Camp Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Michael Gasser (migas@compuserve.com)

No, Beth & April Stevens are not newcomers, not at all. Together with other family members they recorded seven records as the Stevens Family. They even fronted the covers of Bluegrass Unlimited and Bluegrass Now, two publications that cover the bluegrass scene. So it's no wonder that, in a way, they sound like old music pros - not the worn out kinds of pros, but the kind that combine artistic versatility with musical power and pure joy. In other words, a perfect combination; a match made in heaven.

Although they grew up on bluegrass, they say (and it's true!) that their music is influenced by many styles, ranging from blues to pop. They even manage to include a version of the traditional In My Time Of Dying, which they learned, surprisingly enough, from a Led Zeppelin recording! But not to give you any false ideas, this is still bluegrass and bluegrass at its best. Imagine Claire Lynch with a sister as talented as herself. Harmonies as beautiful as they can possibly be - clear and lovely like a mountain spring in the early light of day. If you haven't had a holiday this year, listen to this record once a day and you'll be so relaxed you won't need one.

Because all of the songs meet such an equally high standard, it's awfully difficult to name any highlights - there are only highlights here. If I had to, I'd name the bluegrass blues What About Me, which makes you grin foolishly for no special reason, and leaves your feet tapping endlessly. Other standouts include a wonderful version of the Betty Elders (she's great too!) song Bed Of Roses, with Beth Stevens doing a very fine job on the lead vocals, and the aforementioned In My Time Of Dying, a gospel song with Ray Deaton's powerful bass vocal joining in at the end of the song. So for anyone with a weak spot in their hearts for excellent and modern bluegrass with perfect harmonies, this CD is a must. I promise your hearts will melt away. Big promise!

Track List:

  • Wishful Thinking (Wally Wilson-Michael Henderson)
  • Sisters (Beth, April, Betty & Douglas Stevens)
  • Who's Crying For You Now (Betty & Beth Stevens)
  • Tired Old Heart (Beth & April Stevens)
  • What About Me (Beth, April & Betty Stevens)
  • My Old Friend The Blues (Steve Earle)
  • In My Time Of Dying (Public Domain)
  • Jeanie and Tommy (Beth & April Stevens)
  • Blue (April & Beth Stevens)
  • Tomorrow Is Forever (Dolly Parton)
  • Bed Of Roses (Betty Elders)
  • When We're Gone Long Gone (Kieran Kane-Jamie O'Hara)

Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz (rschwartz@oeb.harvard.edu)

Copyright 1999, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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