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Shady Gove

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Critics' Reviews

amg review
Here is the album that started the brief spurt of recording activity for vocalist and picker Gove Scrivenor, whose music mostly flew out on the Flying Fish label. This artist's name certainly sounds unusual for the type of genres he is involved in; it's a blend of bluegrass, country blues, and bluegrass that is sometimes described with utter vagueness as "acoustic music." Poking at his name is allowed, since Scrivenor himself or at least his handlers also found the same subject to be amusing. Scrivenor joins the list of recording artists about whom it can be said that more than half the album titles in their discographies are puns based on their names. Shady Gove led to Coconut Gove and so forth. (For serious use of the name "Gove," check out the Gove County Philharmonic.) The names of the sidemen featured in this project are not gove-like; rather, they are some of the big names among those playing stringed instruments in country music. Doc Watson makes some appearances, as do banjo picker John Hartford and the marvelous pedal steel maestro Buddy Emmons. With talent like this, it is natural that the program turns foremost into a picking session. Much of the material is suited to loose jamming, originating with country blues artists such as Mance Lipscomb and Brownie McGhee. In turn, the marvelous splashes of instrumental synergy light up these proceedings. Emmons has a particular edge over the quickly decaying acoustic axes, taking over more territory than he gets in the normal country & western recording group and then inhabiting that landscape with improvisational genius. Pictured reading an Alan Watts cover on the tome, Scrivenor is indeed likable in both voice and personality, yet inevitably comes across in the delivery of a lyric about a "black cat's bone" as one of those people who knows about such things because he read it in a book somewhere. The blues idiom is trundled down in intensity here until it would be suitable for the fireplace room at a ski lodge. "Pigeon River Breakdown" is a bluegrass instrumental that is fresh with possibilities, Scrivenor's worldly personality rushing through a style that can unfortunately seem devoid of any personal introspection. Other fine instrumental contributions are made by banjoist Durwood Edwards and drummer Kenny Malone. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi