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Evie Ladin BandEvie Ladin Band
Album: Jump The Fire
Label: Evil Diane
Tracks: 13

Evie originally hails from New Jersey, but is now based in Oakland. California. She has a gift for playing old-time banjo like nobody's business and writing original songs that you'd swear come from that tradition - and she's a pretty fine singer too into the bargain.

Jump The Fire is a well-rounded collection that certainly showcases Evie's songwriting skills (apparently, she "sequestered herself in a damp, dark cabin in the woods… and wrote"!) on a variety of moods and styles, but always heavily inspired by the Appalachian music in which she's always been firmly entrenched. Evie's "band" is in fact Keith Terry and (Crooked Jades') Erik Pearson, who accompany Evie on bass and various guitars, and together they exhibit a tremendous tight energy that fully justifies the tag of "neo-trad kinetic-folk" - even on the more leisurely-paced items on the disc. The musical idiom in which they're set takes the indigenous old-time clawhammer banjo into an adventurous new, more overtly conversational arena, whereby the various instruments can engage in a lively dialogue. Other more-than-incidental delights include some delicious vocal harmonies and some spirited use of body-percussion.

High points of this eclectic collection include the relaxed Cozy, the resigned, poignant Only You, a heartfelt cover of the Carter Family's Honey Lou, the quirky percussive Walking In A Straight Line and the curious "mashup" Ease On Down, while there's also a number of witty moments like Have It All (which references recordings by the Stones, Beatles and Jimmy Cliff along the way) and a rhythmically challenging take on the traditional CooCoo (she's a pretty bird indeed!). The smoothly honky-tonk Drinking About You recruits album producer Bruce Kaphan for pedal steel duty, after which the loss that's felt on Under The Waterline is not quite offset by cautiously encouraging disc finale Jump Up And Go.

Evie's creativity and energy dovetails brilliantly and intuitively with that of her band members to produce a satisfyingly fun record that will withstand many plays.

David Kidman