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Album Review

Few acoustic bands manage to achieve (let alone maintain) the kind of balance that, based on the evidence of their third album, seems to come pretty naturally to the four young women of Uncle Earl: playing music based in old-timey string band tradition that holds an ancient flavor without parodying old-timey sounds, and that brings in modern influences without sounding self-consciously hip. Combining traditional fiddle tunes with modern compositions, and sometimes blending the two by adding new lyrics to old melodies or coming up with new and unusual musical juxtapositions (the shape-note song "Buonaparte" segues seamlessly into the music hall song "Bony on the Isle of St. Helena," for example), Uncle Earl pays homage to the past without either groveling to it or arrogantly "updating" it. Throughout the program, the gentle lilt of their singing voices contrasts beautifully with the full-blooded energy of their playing — note, in particular, the sprightly and gorgeous "Wish I Had My Time Again" and the Cajun 2-step arrangement of Bob Dylan's "Wallflower." And a healthy streak of humor runs throughout as well, as exemplified by the Chinese commentary running over the top of the old Seven Foot Dilly tune "Streak O'Lean, Streak O'Fat" and by the wryly regretful original composition "D&P Blues." If they can keep this up, we all may wake up one morning to find that Uncle Earl is America's finest roots band.

Customer Reviews

Uncle Earl



Formed: 2000 in Ann Arbor, MI

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s, '10s

American string band Uncle Earl formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2000. Founded by singer/songwriters K.C. Groves and Jo Serrapere, the band's early years set the tradition of an all-female lineup that included Amanda Kowalski, Casey Henry, Sally Truitt, and Tahmineh Gueramy. This initial lineup yielded the 2002 independently released album She Went Upstairs. A winning mix of traditional folk, bluegrass, and old-timey string band music, Uncle Earl's music found favor among the folk and roots music...
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Waterloo, Tennessee, Uncle Earl
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