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  One More River To Cross
Artist: Various Artists
Label: Metro One
Time: 12 tracks/32:15

This CD bills itself as being "A Collection of Spiritual Folk and Bluegrass".  However, a more apt description would be acoustic blues with hints of bluegrass and folk.  Considering who made this album it is not a real surprise.

While there is no single artist listed on the outside of the album, this is, at heart, a Lanny Cordola project.  Given his eclectic styles, this is not a real surprise, nor does it lessen the authenticity of the project.  His signature guitar style is all over the album, especially from the "Cincinnati Flow Rag" forward, even breaking out his mandolin on a few tracks.  However, it is not just a Cordola album.

Guests on the project include Chris Lizotte, Darrell Mansfield, Crystal Lewis, Sandra Stevens and Philip Bardowell.  As a result, there is a lot of really high-quality blues vocal work on this project.  Tracks like the aforementioned rag, "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (covering the original, not the Led Zeppelin or the 77s version), "Gwine Dig A Hole," "John the Revelator," "Death Don't Have No Mercy Seat," and "Denomination Blues" certainly give the proceedings a bluesy feel, not at all folk or bluegrass. The only track with a truly bluegrass feel is the opening, title track.  Some of the remaining tracks, like "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Down On Me" are very much Americana-folk in style, right down to the mixed chorus of backing vocalists.  There is even one original, folksy instrumental by Cordola and collaborator/co-producer/engineer Gary Thomas Griffin.

Despite the CD not quite living up to initial stylistic expectations, it is a hidden gem, if for no other reason than Cordola truly is a master of his craft. Hearing him explore the folk and blues idioms acoustically is a treat in and of itself. This disc simply seems to suffer from being somewhat mislabelled on the packaging.

Alex Klages 11/2/2002


This album is another attempt to cash in on the O Brother Where Art Thou phenomenon ­ Old standards and soundalikes redone by modern musicians.  In this case, most of the tunes are Negro spirituals performed by whites and Hispanics.  This is mostly an inconsistent piece, filled with hits and misses.

The hits include “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” which could be an Eric Clapton tune.  “Cincinnati Flow Rag” is a well done instrumental.   “I Shall Not Be Moved” is another highlight, resembling Russ Taff vocally.  “John The Revelator” stands out as a song that Buddy and Julie Miller should consider redoing.

On the flip side, “Gwine Dig a Hole” is sound musically, but comes across as a weird choice ­ it doesn’t fit in, or sound authentic at all.  “Down on Me” is redundant to a fault, and “Stand By Me” is more like CCM than it is Americana.  

One More River to Cross may be the album that signals the end of the latest trend musically, or it may promote the career of its various players ­ it’s hard to tell.  If this entire album were of the quality of “Denomination Blues”, it would be well worth your money.  As is, I’d say to wait for the sale.

Brian A. Smith 11/2/2002



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