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Ladies & Gentlemen (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

The Infamous Stringdusters have made a career out of bending the rules of bluegrass and stretching the boundaries of acoustic music, and with their sixth studio album, they not only mess around with their own formula but strike a blow for gender equality, at least within their own ranks. The title Ladies & Gentlemen refers to the album's concept — the all-male Stringdusters invited a different female guest vocalist to appear on each of these 11 tracks, with each singing an original song that was written by the group with them in mind. (The sole exception is the closing number, "Hazosphere," an instrumental that features guest soloist Jennifer Hartswick on trumpet.) The group's songwriters reveal an inspired sense of casting here, wisely matching the material with the singers — there's a slinky, jazzy groove to "Have a Little Faith" that suits Joss Stone well, Joan Osborne's soulful, organic approach meshes nicely with the dynamics of "Listen," Celia Woodsmith's smoky, evocative instrument was made for the rough-and-tumble mood of "Old Whiskey Bottle," "Ladders in the Sky" is a splendid vehicle for the unaffected clarity of Claire Lynch's vocal style, and Mary Chapin Carpenter is the wary but vibrant voice of experience on "Coming Back to You." And while the Stringdusters handily demonstrate their bluegrass bona fides on these recordings, there's more than a little blues, soul, jazz, and even a dash of pop in the songs featured here, and the picking is both technically proficient and musically thoughtful at every turn. The Infamous Stringdusters actually put themselves in the background on much of Ladies & Gentlemen, letting their guests take the center stage while they provide the support, but if the Stringdusters opted to be accompanists rather than the stars of the show on these sessions, their songs and effortless virtuosity make it clear they're every bit as talented as their friends. And given how many great singers they brought to this party, that's saying a lot.

Customer Reviews

Bad mix

This album could have been very good if it were mixed correctly. The singers sound like they are under a blanket and the instruments are near the mic. I wanted to like this album but I just can't stand the lack of clarity and the pronounced instruments. Instruments are supposed to compliment the singers, not overpower them.

Miss the Stringdusters sound...

I respect any band stepping through doors to try new things. Good things can happen in collaborations. But this doesn't sound like the Stringdusters in my opinion. A little disappointed. Not bad, but not great as hoped.

No.. Why?

I miss the Stringdusters singing in this album. This was very disapointing for me

Biography

Formed: 2006 in Nashville, TN

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formed in 2006, and drawing on the talents of then up-and-coming Nashvillians Andy Hall, Chris Eldridge, Chris Pandolfi, Jeremy Garrett, Jesse Cobb, and Travis Book, the Infamous Stringdusters managed to balance a fluency in old-timey bluegrass with indie jamgrass sensibilities. They released their first album, Fork in the Road, on Sugar Hill in early 2007, which resulted in three awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association later that year. An eponymous sophomore effort arrived in 2008,...
Full Bio