CHESAPEAKE 'Pier Pressure'
Although I'm sure they have a loyal following, this talent-laden band has not really caught on with most Bluegrass fans, and after hearing this, their third album, I must say that I, too, have joined the ranks of the disappointed. There was a lot of promise in the first two records, with moments of inspiration, and there are some nice moments here too, but the overall effect is of a group that is trying much too hard to be different. Short of really good material to start with (on this record), the band relies on heavy, "in your face" arrangements that are often forced and grating. Although there are some Bluegrass elements present, for the most part they are pretty well obscured by a distinctly country backing (steel guitar and heavy percussion). Though not strictly Bluegrass, their music could still be very enjoyable & effective if they backed off a bit and played & sang with more subtlety and taste. It's hard to believe that the same singer who does an impressive, tasteful job on the hymn WHITE PILGRIM can turn around and completely brutalize WORKING ON A BUILDING 4 cuts later in an embarassingly grotesque performance. CAROLINA STAR and BABY BLUE EYES are good, pleasant renditions --though not definitive versions of these songs. BED OF ROSES is another nice performance, but after that the pickings are slim. It seems as if Chesapeake is trying to put forth some "tough" Bluegrass hybrid, but instead they are ending up with a "Bluegrass with attitude" that may turn off more potential fans than they turn on. (If you want good "tough" Bluegrass try Lonesome River Band or Dave Evans). NOTHING AIN'T A LOT, ONCE A DAY, FULL FORCE GALE, ROCKIN' HILLBILLY, GUILTY.