april 2008

Rhonda Vincent

By now it should be obvious that Rhonda Vincent is simply incapable of making anything but good albums. Even by her own lofty standards, though, Good Thing Going is something special—a fully realized bluegrass beauty in which all the elements of songwriting, musicianship, arrangements and production are state of the art, almost impossible to conceive as being any better than they are. One of the album's great strengths is the pronounced sound of Vincent's own voice—not the distinctive, keening singing voice, mind you (always a highlight, though, it hits a listener right between the eyes with the keening, crying declamation she emits on her raucous, self-penned album opener, "I'm Leaving") but rather the voice as expressed in five original songs investigating deep truths about the game of love. This being a bluegrass album, the requisite brooding occurs in midtempo laments over faithless love ("Scorn Of a Lover"), but Vincent seems to know more about the other end of the spectrum, so the heartache is balanced out by gently shuffling, backwoods-style exultations of fidelity and commitment ("Good Thing Going") and a soft, beautiful dobro-and-fiddle-oriented balladic musing on the eternal flame, "I Give All My Love To You," a duet with IIIrd Tyme Out's Russell Moore. With her road band, the Rage, supplemented by the likes of Stewart Duncan on fiddle and Bryan Sutton on guitar, Vincent—who of course contributes some hot mandolin solos of her own throughout—has support of the most exquisite, soulful sort. With all these strengths, she doesn't really need to have Keith Urban sit in, but sit in he does on a sigh-inducing treatment of the traditional ballad, "The Water is Wide," adding an evocative, sandpapery vocal to a restrained, spare arrangement in what is a nice touch of old-fashioned yearning on the first great album of 2008.—David McGee

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (www.johnmendelsohn.com)
Website Design: Kieran McGee (www.kieranmcgee.com)
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024