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Del McCoury, Doc Watson & Mac Wiseman
Mac, Doc & Del
Sugar Hill Records CD SHCD-3883, 1998

Three for the road

Dan Macintosh

This trio album of three bluegrass vet erans, presents a triangle of distinct singing styles. With Del McCoury, one hears that high and lonesome sound so treasured by bluegrass fans; Doc Watson quietly provides subtle charms, and Mac Wiseman provides a more traditionally country sounding vocal–one that wouldn't sound at all out of place in any honky-tonk.

The combination of these three very different singers is surprisingly coherent. When the lead vocals were handed out for this project, the producers obviously took into account these singer's strengths. For example, the sprightly picked folk music of "Little Green Valley" is right up Watson's alley, the upbeat bluegrass stomp of "Beauty of My Dreams" simply calls out for Del McCoury (also featuring his son Ronnie) , and the plaintive ballad "When a Soldier Knocks" fits nicely within Wiseman's approach.

There's no real particular theme addressed with these thirteen songs, as gospel music is touched upon with "The Old Account," love (what else?) is explored–in all of its varieties–with songs like "Speak to Me Little Darlin'" and "I Wonder Where You Are Tonight," and the home is tenderly remembered with "Little Green Valley."

Even the session musicians on this album are high profile players, as Alison Krauss helps out with harmony vocals on "New Moon Over My Shoulder," and the expert dobro work of Jerry Douglas can be enjoyed throughout.

Although these are three heavyweight musicians and singers, they've chosen to keep this release light and unpretentious. There's a sense of understated altruism, without even a hint of one-up-man-ship.

Simply put, the recording can best be likened to an informal guitar pull, instead of an all-star jam session.

songs  Little Green Valley · The Old Account · Speak To Me Little Darlin' · New Moon Over My Shoulder · Beauty Of My Dreams · I'll Sail My Ship Alone · When A Soldier Knocks · Live And Let Live · I've Endured · Talk Of The Town · Black Mountain Rag · I Wonder Where You Are Tonight · More Pretty Girls Than One

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