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Under The Counter

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Album Review

There's an interesting tension at work in Bodega's sound — a push-pull dynamic between the group's youthful energy and exuberance and its equally strong inclination toward the kind of jazzy, discursive experimentation that once characterized the work of American newgrassers like Tony Rice and David Grisman. On its third album, the quintet comes up with a nice program of songs and tunes both old and new, in arrangements that vary from traditional and straightforward to rather unconventional. Sometimes both approaches are evident on the same track, as on the "Inward Chimney" set, which starts out with the jazzily swinging title tune (composed by Bodega guitarist Tia Files) and ends with a straightforwardly rollicking Quebecois reel. Sometimes they lean more traditional, as on the charming "Set of Jigs," and sometimes more modern, as on the slightly too self-indulgent "Drams." The best moments on this album come when the two tendencies are in perfect balance, as on their excellent rendition of the heartbreaking Tim O'Brien/Robin & Linda Williams song "Lost Little Children" and the spectacular "Puirt a Beul," a piece of traditional mouth music performed with almost punky intensity. Bodega are a very fine band; young as they are, they're likely to become scary good before too much longer.

Under The Counter, Bodega
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