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July 2024
Vol. 23, No. 10

CD Reviews


by Wayne RikerJuly 2024

MohaviSoul has released their sixth CD, a self-titled ten-track album of five original and five cover tunes, recorded and mixed by Ryan Finch at Studio West in San Diego. The quintet is led by Randy Hanson on mandolin and Mark Miller on guitar, with Jason Weiss on banjo, Dan Sankey on fiddle, and Dan Bostwick on bass, with Finch and Hanson as producers.

What makes any bluegrass band worth their salt is a full complement of vocal harmonies, which is successfully fueled by all the band members sans Bostwick. “Hurry Up and Wait,” penned by Hanson, starts the festivities behind burning fiddle licks from veteran San Diego fiddler Sankey, as the tune suggests to “seize the day” before it’s too late as he warns us all: “but will it matter at the pearly gates…if you hurry up and wait.”

The 1920s’ country standard “Prisoner’s Song” is up next, a tune covered by everyone from Burl Ives to the Osborne Brothers. MohaviSoul’s uptempo version is highlighted nicely by the tightly arranged vocal harmonies throughout.

Miller steps to the mic on his tune, “Full Circle,” with his soulful voice wailing out that you could have your diamond ring and a million dollars, “but it don’t mean a thing when it comes full circle,” followed by Hanson’s “Get Lucky Again,” set in the saddest key of all—D minor—with the ominous vocal harmonies echoing in a call and response fashion: “some people say I was born under a bad sign…come on, come on, get lucky with me, some people say I ain’t worth a dime…come on, come on, trade places with me.”

Weiss lets loose on banjo, accompanying Miller’s feel-good gospel rocker “Old River Knows.” “As much as I like to dance, old river knows more than me.” Weiss continues strutting his stuff on banjo on Hanson’s lively “Dog in the Middle,” with Miller providing some flatpicking hot licks on guitar. “He loves the middle, just like me, hanging with the band, wagging to the beat.”

A definite highlight is MohaviSoul’s arrangement of the group Fastball’s 1998 Pop hit, “The Way,” with Hanson’s mandolin leading “the way” with a slow rumba rhythm amid Sankey’s gypsy-flavored fiddle riffs behind the lead vocal, which transitions abruptly into a double-time hoedown on the bridge section with full vocal harmonies. Not to be left out, Weiss gets a turn too, with a nifty gypsy-flavored solo on banjo back on the verse section.

Two more cover tunes, Chris Stapleton’s “To Be with You Again” and the Dillards’ “With Care from Someone” are arranged neatly for gig scenarios in which an audience can clap their hands and stomp their feet to a familiar song.

The band is on fire on the closing track, the final cover tune, “Live and Let Live.” In true Bill Monroe fashion, Sankey, Weiss, and Hanson all take turns on torrid solos behind Bostwick’s driving bass line, which brings the curtain down on a top quality production of musical arrangements, silky smooth soloing, and vocal harmonies that capture the flavor of true bluegrass music.

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