The debut album by Mountain Heart
showed this group to be remarkably mature already -- though perhaps that shouldn't be so remarkable, given that three of its members had already served apprenticeships as members of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
. The band's sound is rooted in traditional bluegrass but significantly informed by modern influences, generally (though not always) for the better. Vocally, Mountain Heart
does an excellent job of sanding down the rougher edges of traditional bluegrass without sacrificing its raw power -- on the rollicking "Katie Cline" banjoist Barry Abernathy and guitarist Steve Gulley
harmonize with a perfect blend of vinegar and sugar, and the modal Jack Tottle
composition "Cold Winds" comes off sounding like a good update of Bill Monroe. But "Bitter Harvest" is a touch on the maudlin side, and even fans of bluegrass-gospel might find that "Patching It Up" makes their teeth hurt. Overall, though, this album can be recommended with confidence to fans of traditional and modern bluegrass alike.