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Rosehill - Bluegrass in Waltz Time (CD, 2007)
by Joe Ross, 02/03/2012
Playing Time – 39:56 -- Hailing from Tomball, Texas (ten miles north of Houston), Jodi Adams and Lisa Bonnett have been friends since fourth grade. Within a few years, they were singing together and even recording to learn how to seamlessly blend their voices. About 1996, the two mountain songbirds met some bluegrass jammers at a retirement community who subsequently introduced them to a man who would become a special friend. Originally from Waco, Texas fiddler Cliff Worrell (now 83-years young) had a body of original songs that he wanted Adams and Bonnett to record. A decade has passed since this project’s seed was first planted in 1997, and we should all be happy that it has blossomed and come to fruition. Now known as Rosehill, the duo has achieved bountiful rewards with the release of “Bluegrass in Waltz Time,” an album that manages to capture an ethos and rustic purity of yesteryear’s bluegrass music.
While only a third of the twelve tracks are in ¾-time with that upretentious old-style flavor, the rest of the pleasant songs also convey strong messages of easy-going, good-natured original bluegrass. While we might be more accustomed to hearing material like this years ago from the Delmores, Monroe Boys, Blue Sky Boys or Louvin Brothers, who’s to say that a couple of Texas canaries can’t reinvigorate the same kind of sound with numbers like “He Hung The Stars” and “Dream World Waltz”? “Blue Sky Over Texas” would have been a good song for Bob Wills to cover. Three instrumentalists provide engaging and consummate accompaniment include the album’s producer Randy Powell (fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass), Bobby Nichols (guitar), and Brent Wernick (banjo). They know when to keep the playing understated and respectful in the gospel or waltz-time material, but they also get a chance to cut loose with some tasty western swing and country licks. While it might have been nice for a few songs to incorporate one of the men singing a third harmony, that’s a minor production suggestion.
Rosehill is an appropriate name for the Lisa Bonnett and Jodi Adams duo. Roses come in a variety of colors, and the flowers are often beautifully fragrant like their sweet tunes. Powell’s multiple fiddles planted in “A Bed of Roses” reinforce the song’s inspirational message to face each of life’s challenges as we journey towards the joys of Heaven. In “He Hung the Star,” the women reverently sing “He made the roses kissed by the dew, and he gave his life for you.” Another song that references their namesake, “Anniversary Roses” speaks of a parting, but the song mentions the jilted lover’s habit of still sending a dozen red roses, “one for each year that we had known.” With this debut album, Rosehill’s music is sure to bloom far and wide. And while the two young women of Rosehill refer to their restless hearts in “I Have To See What’s Over The Hill,” we’ll just have to see where their musical journey takes them. Wherever the road leads, I expect they’ll always be on the sunny side of it with their dewy petals glistening. (Joe Ross, Oregon)