Jackstraw 'Sunday Never Comes' Self-Release

A lot of band are now playing bluegrass or variations on it drawing from a deep well of tradition and adding their own touches and songs to widen the vocabulary of the music. This Portland, Oregon quintet are right in there and this is their sixth album. It consists of largely original songs written by band members Darrin Craig and David Pugh. The band is completed by Jon Neufeld, Jesse Withers and newest member Cory Goldman from The Water Tower Bucket Boys. They mix story songs and sharp instrumentals (Sunny Brae, Pearly May) that highlight both their picking and their vocal skills. Dark and Empty is a harsh ballad that is partly summed up by its title. But they can also kick it up a notch, in tone at least, as with Just Another Way To Go. There is enough here to please the traditionalists as well as those who have been listening to acoustic music being played by ex-punks. The have the lonesome harmonies and the restraint that delivers on songs like the title track and It Hurts When I See You with some conviction. While something with a title like If I Die is more of a heartbreak hoedown. It is also heartening to see the list of those who contributed to the funding for the making of this album. It shows that even a smallish number of people can help keep a band, in these economic hard times, going and recording.