Review - Tarbox Ramblers

Artist: Tarbox Ramblers

Boston's Tarbox Ramblers mine the same territory as the Cowboy Junkies did in their early days -- that is, atmospheric arrangements of traditional folksy songs. But the Tarbox Ramblers tend to move a bit faster than the Junkies' sleepy crawl as they update what they describe as "pre-World War II country blues, gospel, field songs and hillbilly with a beat."

Featuring both a slide guitar and violin, the Tarbox Ramblers comfortably canvas both the old-style country ("The Cuckoo" ) and Delta blues ("Shake 'Em on Down" ) camps on this record, without betraying either. And the band does move beyond these standards by throwing in a couple of originals.

While the Tarbox Ramblers have been a club fixture for years, this debut disc doesn't do them justice. The group deserves credit for their meticulous approach, but the result lacks fire. One can hear how these songs would blister in a live setting, but they lack the spark that quality studio recordings demand.