Good Thing Going (Rounder)

By Rhonda Vincent

Rhonda Vincent’s sort of a bluegrass traditionalist—she’s been playing mandolin since she was 8 and has developed into a sterling instrumentalist, a better-than-average vocalist, and a show-biz pro band leader. She covers Jimmy Martin’s “Hit Parade of Love” on her new album, and generally shies away from pop crossovers. Some of the strongest moments on Good Thing Going are, indeed, the old-fashioned barn-busters: “Bluegrass Saturday Night,” “Hit Parade,” and the country scorcher “I’m Leavin.’” The slower songs are hit-or-miss, with the heartfelt melody of “I Will See You Again” winning out over its sentimentality but the traditional Irish song “The Water Is Wide” dragged down by the portentous, self-consciously dramatic arrangement. The stunner, though, is “World’s Biggest Fool,” which isn’t bluegrass at all. It’s a jazzy Western swing number that sounds more like Texas than Kentucky, and a plucky and fun departure from the sepia-tinted tone of much of contemporary bluegrass. Vincent has always been subtle about her adventurousness; it’s nice to hear some of it standing out so starkly.

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