Picks and Pans Review: The Del Mccoury Band

updated 07/18/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/18/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Company We Keep

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It's a good thing Del McCoury is a top-notch picker, because he's not much of a singer. At 66, he is attaining new levels of nasality, sounding more and more like a stereotypical bumpkin, even on the otherwise appealing gospel tune "I Never Knew Life." He doesn't cut it as a philosopher either. On "If Here Is Where You Are," McCoury sings, "If here is where you are, here is where you're s'posed to be," a feeble aphorism that sounds cribbed from the bumper of a '68 VW bus. But as a picker, McCoury is indeed in rare company, a fact that is especially evident on the instrumental "Seventh Heaven." His bluegrass virtuosity remains as stunning as ever. And he is complemented by the exceptional musicianship of his sons Ronnie (mandolin) and Rob (banjo) as well as fiddler Jason Carter. That kind of musicality compensates for a lot of other shortcomings.


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