Abrams Brothers - Blue On Brown

Abrams Brothers - Blue On Brown
  1. Nashville Skyline Rag
  2. Cooper's Lament*
  3. Oklahoma Hills*
  4. City of New Orleans*
  5. Every Hand In the Land*
  6. Mr. Tambourine Man
  7. Going, Going, Gone
  8. Gotta Serve Somebody
  9. Last to Leave*
  10. Shelter from the Storm
  11. Last Train*
  12. The Times They Are A-Changin'
Note: Songs marked with an asterisk (*) are not composed by Bob Dylan

The Abrams Brothers – a duo that sings and plays violin, viola, guitar and mandolin – take their place in a long line of sibling country harmony acts. They also join the family of precociously talented youngsters who play and sing with a preternatural ease, and an artistic vision that belies their youth. How many teenagers would think to record a tribute to the songs of Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie, and how many of those could reach deep into the two artists’ catalogs for songs that are amenable to bluegrass harmonies and string band arrangements? Well, these two, at least. Accompanied by their cousin on bass and studio hands that include Anton Fier (drums), Rob Ickes (dobro), Will Parsons (banjo), and Mickey Raphael (harmonica), the Abrams’ run through a half-dozen Dylan songs and a half-dozen songs written by or closely associated with Guthrie. The youth in their voices adds an arresting innocence to the iconic Dylan tunes “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Shelter From the Storm,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” The latter, lingered over at a slow tempo is especially effective. Their bluegrass fervor is a perfect fit for Dylan’s born-again hit, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” When coupled with a full backing band, the duo is overwhelmed by over-thick productions, such as on Guthrie’s “Cooper’s Lament,” Woody Guthrie’s “Oklahoma Hills,” and Dylan’s “Going, Going Gone.” Anton Fier’s plodding drum beats are particularly distracting on these tracks. Much better are the light shuffle, tight harmony and slide guitar of “City of New Orleans,” the interplay of the Abrams’ guitar, mandolin and fiddle with Will Parsons’ banjo on “Every Hand in the Land,” and a superb reading of Guthrie’s wistful “Last to Leave.” The brothers’ gospel harmonies are well spent on Guthrie’s “Last Train,” with Mickey Raphael’s harmonica taking the song home. Dylan and Guthrie’s songs dovetail naturally, especially as selected by the Abrams from both hits and album cuts. The resulting fan portraits transcend smoothly into brotherly harmony. 3-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings.

Specifications

  • Format: CD
  • Label: UFO 1015
  • Released: 2009

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