Mary Beth, who hails from rural Wisconsin but now lives in Colorado, is a pleasing singer and songwriter who launches into her new 23-minute offering with an affectionate, relaxed cover of Paul Simon’s beautiful opus Kathy’s Song, before treating us to the first of a number of Mary Beth’s originals to grace the disc. Threshing Time, which Mary Beth co-wrote with her 85-year-old father, is a nostalgic bluegrass-tinged memory which finds ample space for genial guitar, banjo and fiddle solos from her band members. Mary Beth’s cover of Gary White’s reflective Long Long Time is pleasingly done, while at the heart of the record is an efficient cover of the standard Shady Grove. The disc’s magnum opus, though, is its eight-minute track plainly and deceptively titled The Medley, which leads us through an enchanted evening by way of Gershwin’s Summertime and Van Morrison’s Moondance interspersed with English and French versions of Mary Beth’s own composition Pas De Deux.
The EP’s final track, Cottonwood Creek, is another Mary Beth original, this time invigoratingly (yet with quite leisurely gait) welcoming the morning and the gift of a new day. Mary Beth and her band (Chris Pandolfi, Jeremy Garrett, Tyler Grant and Adrian Engfer) prove themselves completely suited to, and at home with, the gentle folky-bluegrass nature of the material, and I feel sure any ensuing full-length album would prove a delightful proposition.
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