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Album Review

Award-winning fiddler Michael Cleveland's fourth long-player (and first with new band Flamekeeper) features banjo player John Mark Batchelor, mandolin player/vocalist Jesse Brock, guitar player/vocalist Todd Rakestraw, and bass player/vocalist Marshall Wilborn. Cleveland is as versatile as they come, but when it comes to straight-up bluegrass, whether it's a "bootstomper" like the furious title cut or "Northern White Clouds" or a high and lonesome lament like "Come Spring" or "My Blue Eyed Darling," his peers are few and far between. The rest of the guys are no slouches either (especially banjo wiz Batchelor, who takes the group for a ride on the spirited opener, "Sold Down the River"), hammering through all 14 cuts like John Henry himself, stopping only to let the track ID reset. This is textbook bluegrass crafted by some of the best in the business, and while it breaks little ground, it certainly tears it up nicely.

Leavin' Town, Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper
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