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Album Review: Steep Canyon Rangers, 'Out In the Open'

December 6, 2017

by Elena See, Folk Alley

Steep Canyon Rangers Out In the Open.jpgThe six musicians who make up the North Carolina based Steep Canyon Rangers started out nearly twenty years ago with their feet firmly planted in the bluegrass genre. Over time, they've morphed into a true supergroup: crazy good musicians who've developed an innate understanding of each other's talents and who know exactly how to work with each other to achieve the best possible sound. But, in 2017/2018, is it a true bluegrass sound? Well, kind of.

Of course, identifying a band as part of a specific musical genre has become less and less important. Good music is good music and, frankly, who cares if it's called country or bluegrass or rock 'n' roll? The Steep Canyon Rangers don't seem to care, that's for sure, and neither does producer Joe Henry. Together, they've created 'Out in the Open,' an album that really does offer something for everyone.

There's a melancholy Americana sound that rings out in the opening track, "Farmers and Pharaohs" (just try not to sink into some deep personal reflection as you listen to a man who longs for another chance at the past); barbershop quartet (sextet?) fans will delight in "Shenandoah Valley," with its almost-but-not-quite-gimmicky whistling and vocal harmonies; and there's a classic country feel to "Love Harder," thanks in part to the banjo, mandolin, and fiddle trio that runs throughout the tune. And, in true bluegrass fashion, each instrument gets its chance to shine throughout the album, too: the banjo quietly (yes, really) works its magic on "Roadside Anthems," and harmonica fans will rejoice in the title track.

In short, 'Out in the Open' is a stellar addition to the Rangers' discography. It's full of emotion, heart, and soul, and for an album of songs that seem to circle around themes of loss, regret, and wishes for second chances, there's an underlying air of hope, a promise that, as you hear in a gorgeous cover of Bob Dylan's "Let Me Die in My Footsteps," "mistakes of a past history" won't be repeated.

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'Out in the Open' will be released January 26, 2018 via Ramseur Records, and is available for pre-order now at iTunes and Amazon.com.

Upcoming tour dates


Posted by Linda Fahey at 3:52 PM

Folk Alley Radio Show #171130

by Linda Fahey

Folk Alley Logo - tan matte 240.jpg Each week, host Elena See collects the best in contemporary and traditional folk, Americana and roots music from the latest releases, classics, exclusive Folk Alley in-studio and live concert recordings. Two new hours each week.

Stream this week's show. (audio may take a minute to load on mobile devices)

PLAYLIST

Artist - Title - Album - Label

Hour One:

Darrell Scott - Jesus Was A Capricorn - Live at the Station Inn - Soundly Music

Over the Rhine - If We Make It Through December - Blood Oranges In The Snow - Great Speckled Dog

Mike Barnett (feat. Tim O'Brien) - Mary and the Soldier - Portraits in Fiddles - Compass Records

Mike Barnett (feat. Bobby Hicks) - Fiddle Patch - Portraits in Fiddles - Compass Records

Twisted Pine - Bound To Do It Right (The Jersey City Song) - Twisted Pine - Signature Sounds

Cara Dillon - The Faughan Side - Wanderer - Charcoal Records

John Doyle - North Sea Holes - Evening Comes Early - Shanachie

Boubacar Traoré (w/ Leyla McCalla) - Je chanterai Pour toi - Dounia Tabolo - Lusafrica

Leyla McCalla - Latibonit - Folk Alley in-studio recording - Folk Alley in-studio

Steep Canyon Rangers - Going Midwest - Out in the Open - Ramseur Records

Billy Strings - Pyramid Country - Turmoil & Tinfoil - Apostol Recording

John Hartford - Holding - Aereo-Plain - Rounder

KC Groves - Little Rain - Happy Little Trees - KC Groves

Free the Honey - High Peaks - Fine Bloom - Free the Honey

Hour Two:

Mama's Broke - Count the Wicked - Count the Wicked - Mama's Broke

André Brunet - La Grosse Maison Rouge - Folk Alley Sessions at FestiTrad - Folk Alley Exclusive

Stephen Fearing - Blowhard Nation - Every Soul's a Sailor - Stephen Fearing

Samantha Fish - No Angels - Belle of the West - Ruf Records

Lucinda Williams - Drunken Angel - Car Wheels on a Gravel Road - Mercury

David Rawlings - Money is the Meat In the Coconut - Poor David's Almanack - Acony Records

Gillian Welch - Revelator - Time (The Revelator) - Acony

Mary Gauthier - Bullet Holes in the Sky - Rifles & Rosary Beads - In the Black Records/Thirty

Slaid Cleaves - Still Fighting the War - Still Fighting the War - Music Road Records

Upstate Rubdown - Ball Rolling - A Remedy - Upstate Rubdown

Richie & Rosie - Brushy Folk of St. John's Creek - Nowhere In Time - Richie & Rosie

Jeffrey Martin - Billy Burroughs - One Go Around - Fluff & Gravy

Tommy Emmanuel - Looking Forward to the Past (feat. Rodney Crowell) - Accomplice One - CGP Sounds/Thirty Tigers

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell - La Danse de la Joie - The Traveling Kind - Nonesuch Records

Folk Alley's weekly, syndicated radio show is produced by Linda Fahey and Elena See with assistance by Jon Nungesser. The show is available for free to stations via PRX.org or directly from WKSU via FTP for non-PRX members. The Folk Alley Radio Show is presently carried on over 50 stations nationally.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 3:38 PM

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