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An acoustic treat, Guest House is furnished with a blend of styles rooted in ancient tones but boasting a contemporary glow in the seasoned hands of bluegrass innovators Laurie Lewis (fiddle, guitars, vocals) and Tom Rozum (vocals, mandolin, mandola, guitar). The pair dip into gospel, folk, bluegrass, and country, positioning well-turned original songs alongside well-chosen covers, both of which allow for plenty of hot pickin' and a dollop of introspective instrumental commentary. With a few select side players along for support, Lewis's frantic, album-opening ballad, "Willie Poor Boy," takes a page from Woody Guthrie in its compassionate approach to a beleaguered workingman's plight, and the acoustic instruments summon the sizzling spirit of Flatt & Scruggs. "Tramps and Hawkers," a deliberately paced, somber tale of a drifter's yearning for the land and people he must sadly leave behind, tugs extra hard at the heartstrings when Lewis adds poignant, keening fiddle support to Rozum's melancholy vocal. Bill Monroe's life story inspired the toe-tapping, banjo- and fiddle-fired epic "O My Malissa," which is paired with a version of the Monroe Brothers' "How Old Are You?" in an inspired moment of vocal and instrumental transcendence. An album so rich in authoritative picking, though, finds its most powerful moment in the a cappella voices harmonizing on "Quiet Hills," a hymnlike testimony to faith in the future in the midst of a bleak present. Toss in a spirited rendition of the evergreen "Old Dan Tucker" and a jubilant rendition of a Perry Como landmark, "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes," and this Guest House is full up -- with a surfeit of good things.
Performance CreditsLaurie Lewis Primary Artist,Fiddle,Guitar,Vocals
Nina Gerber Guitar,Guest Appearance
Mike Marshall Mandocello,Guest Appearance
Tom Rozum Guitar,Mandolin,Vocals,Mandola,Primary Artist
Tom Sauber Banjo,Guest Appearance
Scott Huffman Guitar,Guest Appearance
Craig Robert Smith Banjo,Guest Appearance
Todd Sickafoose Vocals,String Bass,Guest Appearance
Technical CreditsLaurie Lewis Arranger,Producer
Hazel Dickens Composer
Si Kahn Composer
Claudia Schmidt Composer
Jim Ringer Composer
Tom Rozum Arranger,Composer,Producer
Liz Meyer Composer
Slim Willet Composer
Todd Sickafoose Arranger
Kate McLeod Composer
L. David Lewis Composer
Tom Size Engineer
Tim Rozum Producer