Bluegrass doesn’t get more solid than the music on this, Kathy Kallick’s 20th album. Kallick herself is an institution in bluegrass, not only through her work with this band but as a founding member of the Good Ol’ Persons, plus her solo work and duets with many of her contemporaries.
On Foxhounds Kallick is joined by Annie Staninec on fiddle, Tom Bekeny on mandolin, Greg Booth on Dobro and banjo, and Cary Black on bass. Everyone contributes to the vocals and the arrangements. There’s nothing on this album but 14 tracks of rock-solid acoustic country music, from old-time to bluegrass to contemporary folk to some tasty covers.
It kicks off with the title track, a sure-footed mid-tempo bluegrass number that puts Kallick’s vocals front and center on the verses and let the rest of the band show off their beautiful harmonies. Bekeny gets in a knock-out mandolin solo with some bluesy dissonance, and young Staninec shows off her sweet fiddling. She keeps it going when she kicks off the soulful, rootsy song “So Dang Lonesome” with some absolutely knock-out fiddle licks. Both of those are Kallick originals, as are fully half of the record. Sure to be among the most popular is the heady bluegrass workout “I’m Not Your Honey-Baby Now,” which gives Kallick and Staninec a chance to showcase the way their voices harmonize and Booth gets to do some Scruggs-style picking.
The covers range from the de rigeur of Bill Monroe’s instrumental “Kentucky Mandolin” and the Lily Mae Ledford bluegrass ditty “Banjo Pickin’ Girl” to the unexpected, Richard Thompson’s “Tear Stained Letter” which along with Del McCoury’s cover of “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” probably cement’s Thompson’s bluegrass legacy! Oh, and don’t miss “Sally Ann,” one of those great bluegrass songs that doesn’t get done enough; and the old-time instrumental “Roscoe” which again allows Staninec to show off her bowing. In fact, here’s a video from a couple of years ago.
Kathy Kallick has won plenty of awards including a Grammy and two IBMA awards, received a lifetime membership from the California Bluegrass Association, and has appeared on plenty of collections. Foxhounds further cements her legacy as one of the greats, plus it’s a lot of fun to listen to.
Live Oak, 2015