Best One Yet

New Day (Rounder)
Claire Lynch

By Bob Mitchell

Good news. Claire Lynch is back! With the release of New Day (her first studio album in six years) the sun came out, clouds rolled away, skies turned blue, birds sounded happier and spring flowers looked more beautiful. That may sound like an exaggeration but, as you know, it is impossible for a bluegrass reviewer to exaggerate. Well, not exactly. When it comes to Lynch's agile, lilting, sometimes playful voice this reviewer cannot be entirely objective. Her approach is always deeply personal, honest, fresh and innovative. It was not by accident that she was nominated twice for the Best Bluegrass Album Grammy Award and was named 1997 Female Vocalist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. She's flat out good.

Lynch alone is worth the price of a CD but she surrounded herself with the extraordinary talents of old friends and former bandmates Missy Raines (bass) and Jim Hurst (guitar). No one can remember how many times Raines was named IBMA bassist of the year and Hurst, a former IBMA guitarist of the year continues to display phenomenal picking. The remaining member of the tight-knit Claire Lynch Band is David Harvey on mandolin and fiddle. I especially enjoyed Harvey's chops on "Leaving On That Evening Train." The recording also features guest appearances from such luminaries as banjoists Charlie Cushman and Alison Brown, fiddlers Stuart Duncan and Andrea Zonn and Dobro master Rob Ickes.

The press kit accurately says, "Lynch's personal take on acoustic music encompasses classic bluegrass and thoughtful infusions of contemporary folk, country, rock and swing. New Day is marked by a joyful sense of discovery, most palpable in Lynch's vocal performances, which are among her most dynamic and uninhibited." Some of my favorite selections are bluesy groovy "Up This Hill and Down," a Lynch original, "Train Long Gone," and a sassy swinging arrangement of "Falling In Love." Her enthusiasm for her art is infectious and her delivery is sincere but no more so than on "Love Will Find You Again" and "Falling in Love."

New Day, although not strictly bluegrass, is Lynch's best effort to date. It is a gorgeous project from start to finish and deserves to be heard.

For more information go to www.rounder.com.