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Deep In The Shade

Steep Canyon Rangers

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Album Review

The Steep Canyon Rangers continue their upward arch with Deep in the Shade another collection of mostly original tunes that blend contemporary bluegrass stylings with folk, gospel, and old-time, hardcore country music. Their playing has always been exemplary, but they've always concentrated on the song itself, with minimal solos, although every member can shred with the best of 'em. Graham Sharp and Charles Humphrey III are developing into first-class tunesmiths, and several songs here could be big commercial hits in the hands of some mainstream country artist. Humphrey's "I Thought That She Loved Me" is a country-boy-meets-city-girl lament, but the lyric has a bit of arch humor usually missing in songs of this kind. The tongue-twisting chorus and the interplay between Mike Guggino's mandolin and Nicky Sanders' fiddle add to the song's playful feel. Sharp's "Heartbreak Is Real" is the kind of sad honky tonk song that George Jones cut his teeth on, a low-down lament given a jaunty rhythm complemented by the band's close harmonies and Sanders' crying fiddle. Humphrey's "Shades of Gray" is an old-fashion country song detailing the time in a marriage when everything is going wrong; the band's energetic playing complements Woody Platt's mournful lead vocal. Hard times are the subject of Sharp's "Turn Up the Bottle," an energetic drinking song, and "Nowhere to Lay Low," a lament with an ancient-mountain feel and an apocalyptic chorus. The covers include a bluegrass revamping of Merle Haggard's love-'em-and-leave-'em classic "I Must Be Somebody Else You've Known" delivered with a bit of tongue in cheek humor, and a mournful a cappella reading of the Leadbelly/Weavers classic prison song "Sylvie," the vocals drenched with rich, Southern Baptist church harmonies. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 1999 in Chapel Hill, NC

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Although they received a boost in popularity when actor/banjo player Steve Martin joined their ranks in 2009, the Steep Canyon Rangers had already earned an audience with their progressive bluegrass sound. Graham Sharp (banjo, harmony vocals) met future bandmates Woody Platt (guitar, lead vocals) and Charles R. Humphrey III (bass, harmony vocals) in 1999, while all three were attending the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Drawn together by their love of acoustic music, they began playing...
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Deep In The Shade, Steep Canyon Rangers
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