Album Review of
On A Farm

Label: Common Folk CD-0003

Genres: Bluegrass

Styles: Contemporary Bluegrass, Bluegrass

Visit Artist/Band Website
Written by Joe Ross
March 7, 2014 - 12:00am EST
Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star

The Acoustic Endeavors seed was planted in 1991 when Warren Amberson (bass, mandolin, guitar) and Kelly Green (guitar) met at a festival in Iowa. Warren had finished a stint in the Army (where he'd played with the U.S. Army Bluegrass Band in Europe), and he was touring the U.S. with his German bluegrass band, Foreign Affairs. In 1992, Warren and Kelly put a band together in Tennessee where the two of them attended the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass Music Program. Originally with Glen Rose and Tommy Austin, the band went on to win fourth place at the 1994 SPBGMA band contest. The following year, Acoustic Endeavors won the South Carolina Pizza Hut regional championship. Over the years, others who have played or recorded with the band include Tim Laughlin, Amanda Mathis, Tommy Morse, Ernie Power, Randy Utterback, Greg Honeycutt, and John Golden. Previous album projects include Coming of Age, Sneak Preview, and Coming of Age…Again (a re-issue of the initial album with two additional tracks). Based in Roanoke, Va. since 1997, Warren and Kelly welcomed Dewey Peters (guitars) in 1998, John Lawless (banjo) in 2000, and Billy Hurt (fiddle) in 2003.

On A Farm was more than three years in the making, and the 49-minute album contains 16 songs written by Amberson or Green. Both of them are excellent lead vocalists also. "True Love Takes Two" is a collaborative effort of both songwriters with former bandmate (until 2003) Greg Honeycutt. Of the vocal numbers, many are striking because, in fine bluegrass form, they flow smoothly with clear messages and fairly uncomplicated chord structures. The songs draw you in, develop a message or story, and then end effectively. On a beautiful love song like "To You I Wed," the lyrics immediately grab your attention. Guest Jerry Wood's twin fiddle is a nice embellishment for this song that states "on this special say, I'll say I do." Their hooks are straight forward but still catchy and easily remembered without being over-complicated. Another example is the simple phrase "done me wrong, she's up and gone, and left me here to hoe this row alone." A sincere, subtle and respectful gospel message is imparted in "Over in Heaven's Skies." Their two instrumentals ("Berkley's Bottom" and "Young William") give everyone a piece of the picking action and a chance to shine, and my only suggestion here might have been to equalize the guitar and mandolin breaks for a little more punch and intensity. With contemporary flair, Acoustic Endeavor's On A Farm is a very refreshing and warm-hearted experience. (Joe Ross)