Psychograss-now_hear_this_span3
October 2005

Psychograss
Now Hear This
Adventure Music America

Much ink has been spilled as to the cementing of jazz into "America's Classical Music," but these arguments neglect the obvious: America already has a homegrown classical music in bluegrass. The idiom and structure of bluegrass have been set in stone for well over a half-century, and most artists in the field are content to color within the lines. It's all the more exhilarating, then, to discover Psychograss' long awaited third album to be a successful experiment in expanding the boundaries of the genre.

Released almost 10 years after the band's sophomore effort, Now Hear This is a fascinating jumble of styles-Celtic, bluegrass, jazz, European classical, rock and swing-that all manage to do-si-do without stepping on each other's feet. The credit for this deft choreography lies with the band; Psychograss' performance is nuanced without pretension, playful but not juvenile. Adventures in tempo (the gradual accelerando at the end of "Looks Like a Duck" takes the piece from ballroom to square dance) and rapid shifts in modulation (notably on the raucous "Scary," which evokes a woodsy chase scene) highlight the imaginative highs of a combo that revels in taking chances. Now Hear This never overreaches or strains, offering a variety of newgrass fusion that is seamless, innovative and masterfully executed.

Originally published in October 2005
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