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Album Review

The CD case advises store owners to file this one under "bluegrass," but it's not clear why. Granted, Missy Raines is a nearly legendary bassist in bluegrass circles, but her latest solo project features little to no bluegrass; instead, it ranges far and wide pursuing a varied agenda that covers jazz, new acoustic swing, funk, and a sort of country-flavored pop. Not all of it succeeds: the title track opens the program on a vague and unfocused note, trying for jazz but just sounding like noodling. But "Basket of Singing Birds" nicely showcases her warm, slightly sultry voice and "Duke of Paducah" is a softly impressive instrumental that tightens up the jazz groove considerably by adding an element of Southern R&B to the mix. "Pootie Tang," however, falls flat — it's hard to do acoustic funk convincingly, and when you do it unconvincingly the results can be a bit embarrassing. But it can be done well, as the band demonstrates later on the excellent "Stop, Drop & Wiggle." The emotional centerpiece of the album is Raines' instrumental tribute to her recently deceased father, a gorgeous composition entitled "Ides of March." It's uneven and fans of her more mainstream bluegrass work may be puzzled, but there's plenty to enjoy on this album.

Inside Out, Missy Raines & The New Hip
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