July 15, 2005

When it comes to “new acoustic”—the swinging blend of bluegrass, jazz, baroque, and Celtic pioneered by mandolinist David Grisman under the rubric of dawg music—it doesn’t get any better than Psychograss. Flatpicker extraordinaire David Grier and his mates Mike Marshall (mandolin), Tony Trischka (banjo), Darol Anger (violin), and Todd Phillips (upright) play with a relaxed virtuosity that inspires and astounds, yet remains fun and inviting. Phillips, Anger, and Marshall are Grisman Quartet alumni, and they reflect his original vision without letting the band sound derivative. Salting his ’grass with bluesy double-stops and jazzy voicings, Grier plays with thrilling clarity—even at top speed. His Jim Merrill flat-top yields warm, ripe tones that sit beautifully below Marshall’s tinkling mandolin and Anger’s sweetly searing violin. In Grier’s “Look What the Dog Brought In,” his 6-string rings with piano-like clarity and sustain, recalling Grisman’s original dawg flatpicker, Tony Rice. Adventure Music America. —Andy Ellis

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