Guest House (High Tone Records)

Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum

By Bob Mitchell

Guest House features the smooth, well-rehearsed voices of Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum. However, their instrumental prowess also merits acknowledgment as a major focal point in this latest release. Lewis plays fiddle and guitar while Rozum plays mandolin, mandola, and guitar.

Their work always has been first rate but they have, once again, raised the bar. Each arrangement is thoughtful and intelligent. Most tracks are not in the three-minute traditional bluegrass mode. In fact, Lewis and Rozum frequently need five minutes per cut and a fiddle medley required almost eight minutes to accommodate their ideas. The recording is difficult to categorize because it incorporates elements of country, blues, folk, bluegrass, jazz and pop. The sensitive treatment of lyrics and melody is always sweetened by the way in which their voices complement one another. The ever-pleasant harmony lines are as snug as sister and brother, especially on a heartfelt "Since You Went Away," and "Scars From An Old Love."

Other highlights include a snappy, clever "Bad Seed," "O My Malissa" (a love song based on Bill Monroe's fiddle playing mother), a poignant cover for Hazel Dicken's "My Heart's Own Love," an a capella trio, "Quiet Hills," and a lively "Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes."

For more information, check out www.laurielewis.com