Hot Rize: When I’m Free

Album review
Hot Rize: When I’m Free

Hot Rize

When I'm Free

Label: Ten In Hand
Media: CD
Genre: Rock/pop
Ratings:
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It starts with a jaunty curlicue riff from “Mr. Banjo” (Pete Wernick) before Tim O’Brien’s plaintive vocal announces “Western Skies,” a tune born of heartbreak and centered on incipient wanderlust and its attendant anxieties. Hot Rize, with three original members in the fold and precision guitarist Bryan Sutton occupying the fourth chair, is back. Still toeing the thin line between progressive and traditional bluegrass it skillfully navigated between 1979 and 1990, the Rizers have delivered an album every bit as fine as it was eagerly anticipated. The bright, crisp sonics frame virtuoso level picking—Wernick’s sprightly “Sky Rider” instrumental is one dazzling, fleet-fingered dialogue between Wernick, Sutton and O’Brien (on mandolin)—and songs from the heart made doubly affecting by O’Brien’s mature tenor and sensitive phrasing. These range from uptempo reflections on love gone awry (“You Were on My Mind This Morning,” “Come Away”) to a dirge-like treatise on the hardships of “A Cowboy’s Life.” Add a jubilant cover of Mark Knopfler’s rustic love song “I Never Met a One Like You” and O’Brien tearing it up on fiddle on the old-time gospel instrumental, “Glory in the Meeting House,” and what’s left to say? Maybe more, please!

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Contributors:
  • primary artist, Hot Rize

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