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Mountain HeartMountain Heart
Album: Blue Skies
Label: Compass
Tracks: 10

According to the band's PR "Mountain Heart is an American band, which combines elements of rock, jam band, country, blues, jazz, folk and bluegrass music into a high-energy sound." That just about covers most genres and is a pretty good description of the music on offer on this album.

"Blue Skies" is the band's first album since 2010 but fans of the band will feel that the wait has been worthwhile. The band, consisting of five quality musicians and singers all with a pedigree as long as your arm, is made up of Josh Shilling, Aaron Ramsey, Jeff Partin, Seth Taylor and new member Molly Cherryholmes.

A few years ago, my wife and I visited Nashville, the bands' musical home. As is essential on a visit to the home of country music, we visited a number of bars and clubs and were immediately struck by the quality of the performers on show, many of whom will never make it to the big stage. So, to do so means that the performer must have exceptional talent, and this band has it in bundles.

There is a real mix of music and rhythms on this album from the slow "No One To Listen" a fairly typical country ballad to the heavily blue grass influenced instrumental "The Bad Grounds" which more than amply showcases the bands' musicianship. The whole album has been designed to get your feet tapping or enable you to relax and listen to the superb lyrics. Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm" is performed with panache and it was a bit of a surprise to me to find it included in the track listing. "Have You Heard About The Old Hometown" typifies modern country music with its multi layered backing. The inclusion of both mandolin and violin takes the music to a whole new level of sound and quality.

Mountain Heart is a band that pushes the boundaries of modern music, not happy to limit itself to just one style. The penultimate track "I Can't Get Over You" is a great example of their versatility and virtuosity. The final track "Hurting" returns the band to its country roots with a wonderful ballad. A prefect ending to a quite superb album from a band that deserves international recognition!

Rory Stanbridge