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Joe Ross - Spirit of St. Louis (CD, 2007)
by Joseph E. Falletta, 02/03/2012
There's a lot to like about this latest effort from Joe Ross. Eleven new original songs cover everything from stirring Gospel, to songs about logging, Mom, Oregon (where Joe calls home), love, even fowl, and, as the title implies, Charles Lindbergh's epic flight across the Atlantic.
Al Brinkerhoff's melodious resophonic guitar kicks things off very appealingly on the lively "The Logger's Song," vividly illustrating the life of an Oregon woodsman. "The River In Oregon" is a tribute to the rivers and tributaries, "the lifeblood of the land...please take care of them," Joe writes in the liner notes. "One Legged Turkey," a clever, upbeat instrumental, was written in memory of an actual wild turkey that hung around for a while on the roof of Joe's home. "Mother's Songs" is quite emotive; a beautiful piece that Joe says always choked him up as he sang it. Recorded with the fine Missouri band Cedar Hill, the cut features Mel Besher in a first-rate bluegrass tenor lead vocal backed by Lisa Ray on harmony vocal. The one traditional in the collection, "St. Anne's Reel," is lovely with Joe on hammered dulcimer and mandolin, Bryan Bowers on autoharp, and Radim Zenkl on pennywhistle. "The Church Bell No One Hears" and "His Hand Is Divine" are two very well-crafted Gospel pieces, the latter featuring some excellent fiddle work by Ronnie Stewart.
Again Joe composes in a nice array of styles...the very bluesy "Streamliner," Calypso on "The River In Oregon," and driving bluegrass. And as usual, he's assembled a fine line up musicians quite equal to the task; the likes of Randy Kohrs, James King, Adam Haynes, Kevin Prater, Tim Crouch, and Scott Vestal contribute masterfully on various cuts. The word sure seems to have gotten out among his peers that Joe is a talent to be reckoned with; it's more than about time this notion catches on with the listening public and bluegrass radio. (Joe Falletta)