Possumhaw, Split-Rail | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
Pin It

Possumhaw, Split-Rail 

(Self-released, CD)

America is witnessing the re-emergence of acoustic music, particularly the bowed, strummed and picked variety. Over the last few years, a new generation of musicians has embraced the instruments and sounds of post-war Appalachia and started producing fresh bluegrass albums for today's music fans. Burlington quartet PossumHaw is one such group. Their self-released debut, split-rail, attempts to bring old-time tradition to modern ears.

Bluegrass typically ranges from high-octane tunes suitable for Friday night table dancing to the smoother, gentler variety heard after church. Some of the genre's newcomers, such as Old Crow Medicine Show and Split Lip Rayfield, represent the rowdy end of the spectrum. PossumHaw, on the other hand, have more in common with bluegrass balladeer Alison Krauss. While some tracks on Split-rail (such as the energetic instrumental "Overhill") are barnstormers, most have a relaxed feel.

The buttery, sweet voice of lead singer Colby Crehan will probably make or break the album for listeners. Some will fall in love with her blanket-warm intimacy while others may find it cloying. Although the rest of the band provides adequate support, their performances aren't radically unique. It's obvious that Crehan's sensual, country-soul vocals are meant to be the centerpiece of PossumHaw's soothing sound.

Lyrically, split-rail echoes themes that could've been heard on the airwaves during the heyday of the Grand Ole Opry. "Come On In" tells the tale of a couple's steadfast love in the face of temptation, while "Fire of '89" educates listeners on the horrors of the Great Savannah Fire of 1889. No matter what decade it is, disasters make for a compelling narrative.

The real question is: Which one of today's bluegrass groups will recast this antique art form into a truly new mold? The Velvet Underground did that for rock and, more recently, Uncle Tupelo did it for country. While split-rail is an immensely enjoyable debut, it doesn't quite amount to a bluegrass revolution. It'll be interesting to see where they take it from here.

Did you appreciate this story?

Show us your ❤️ by becoming a Seven Days Super Reader.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Tags: , ,

Pin It

More by Brian Murphy

About The Author

Brian Murphy


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Latest in Album Review

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2019 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation