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CD Review: Steel String Line 

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Is there a new Hudson Valley sound developing? A new mellow, equal parts small batch whiskey and maple syrup? Acoustic Medicine Show's latest long player suggests there is. Songwriter Joe Tobin's grooves fit right in with the slew of greater Capital Region singers who are putting an upstate slant on the laid-back canon of Jack Johnson, John Mayer, and Dave Matthews. But Tobin and fellow travelers like M.R. Poulopoulos, Dan Johnson, and the Red Haired Strangers aren't a "Saturday Night Live" skit in waiting. There's a depth to all their work that is reflected in AMS' latest effort.

Tobin has revamped his band's line-up, which puts a sweet slink in "Riding in the Country," "Faded Memory," and the disc-opening "She Takes My Blues Away" (which sounds like an outtake from Poulopoulos's essential Harvest the Heart). Coproducer Marc Moss's mandolin is delightful on the latter, meshing with Jake Carter's barroom piano in a way that rocks and relaxes at the same time. "Country Pie" is not the Dylan tune, but bears a remarkably similar Woodstock-via-Nashville vibe. The Tex-Mex touches of "Sparrows Run" would not be out of place on a Willie Nelson album. And the steel guitar of the closing "Tears of Rain" recalls Pure Prairie League through Jack or Dan Johnson's filter. Tobin also features the string section of Rachael Silverman and Ency Austin behind Adele Schulz's throaty whisper on the ballad "Always Be with You."

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