The GourdsBolsa de Agua (Sugar Hill)

Bolsa de Agua (Sugar Hill)

The Gourds Reviewed

The Gourds

Bolsa de Agua (Sugar Hill)

"The hallelujah shine is mighty dark and old," sing Kevin Russell and company in gospel harmony on Bolsa de Agua, the Gourds' fourth studio album, lyrically oblique as ever, but melodically superior to the other albums in the canon. In fact, the worst that can be said for Bolsa de Agua is that its songs are dangerously marketable, meaning the Gourds might (gasp!) garner more airplay. That doesn't mean the songs don't shimmer like a crescent moon through cypress trees and Spanish moss, it just means that after five years and five releases, the boys are growing up, and Bolsa de Agua reflects that maturity. "Meat off the Bone" and "Turn My Head Around" sound like country classics, even if the words would make the average Shania Twain fan cross-eyed. The group's newest addition, Max Johnston, emerges as the musical star of the group with his fiddle and loping banjo, but credit for the band's solid foundation goes to accordion player Claude Bernard and percussionist Keith Langford, who understand implicitly that flash and glitter are like style without substance. Guests include Jon Dee Graham and Debra Kelly of the Damnations TX, as well as producer Mike Stewart. The video-enhanced CD is a bit like seeing country bumpkins dressed up for church in that the technology seems somewhat out of place with the image so lovingly cultivated in the folk arty cover graphics of their albums, but it's sure to be a treat for Gourds fans everywhere. The Gourds are a cold drink of orange soda pop on a hot and dusty day. Somewhere in heaven Doug Sahm is smiling

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