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CD Review: Upstate Rubdown's "A Remedy" 

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Upstate Rubdown A Remedy

(2015, Independent)

The human voice. Damn, it's a beautiful thing. Upstate Rubdown's full-length debut, A Remedy—produced in Woodstock and Rhinebeck by Grammy winner Jason Miles—is focused on three contemporary female voices, but the net result is closer to the Roches than Mountain Man. Mary Kenney, Melanie Glenn, and Kate Scarlett all sing remarkably, and they weave their voices well, recalling not only the serpentine sibling harmonies of the Roches, but of the Andrews and Boswell sisters, too. The cooing opening notes of the opening track, Glenn's "Ball Rolling," make it seem like madrigals will be on the way, but they never arrive, thankfully. Instead, the eclectic trio bounces off an unexpected superstructure made of bass (Harry D'Agostino), mandolin (Ryan Chappell), and percussion (Dean Mahoney).

The band, lacking familiar chordal anchors of guitar or piano, is off-kilter in a delicious, entirely unobtrusive way; and Chappell's brash mandolin lends a welcome drive. Auxiliary members and supporting players (including saxophonist Joe Lovano) job in for specific tracks but never overpower the exuberant Rubdown vibe. Key tracks include Glenn's plangent "New Life," stacked with session guests; Kenney's "No Slack," flashing a hipster "This town ain't big enough" chant; and D'Agostino's "Bad Enough" which brings jazz changes and harmonies to the game. Also included, as a nod to Rubdown's deeper roots, is a vibrant take of the 1927 Gene Austin chestnut "Tonight You Belong to Me." UpstateRubdown.com.

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