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It's Just The Night

The Del McCoury Band

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Album Review

It had long been presumed that bluegrass patriarch Del McCoury could do no wrong. From his days with Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys through his work for Rebel Records in the '70s to his contemporary work with his sons in the Del McCoury Band, every release has had the same consistent attention to quality to match his crystalline high tenor and his bandmates' unparalleled musical skills. On the 2003 release It's Just the Night, something seems to have changed. The pickin' and a-singin' is still pretty strong, but the song selection seems to be uneven, and it almost feels like there's a lack of the usual passion in the performances. The solos lag where they should really rip (even the lightning fingers of Ronnie McCoury seem oddly distracted throughout much of the record), and the deep rich harmonies usually evident in the gospel numbers seem less dynamic than they have in the past. Even the packaging on the album seems to be a broad departure for the band: usually smartly dressed in a relaxed atmosphere, Del and the boys are now thrown into a psychedelic, computer-generated environment which might be more suited for a rave hosted by Tim Burton. All of these factors are disappointing, since Del McCoury albums have been an unflagging example of consistent quality in the contemporary bluegrass scene. Still, even when the band's not at its best, they're still pretty darned good. The opening track, "Dry My Tears and Move On," chugs along like a mountain freight train, and Ronnie's blistering instrumental "Hillcrest Drive" serves as the high point of the record. Unfortunately, the handful of sparks that the band throws off here and there don't match the beauty and intensity of their earlier releases.

It's Just The Night, The Del McCoury Band
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