NEW BLUEGRASS GAL

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Bluegrass is such a tough genre to get right. It usually takes years – decades even – before an artist can take their place within the top rank of performers. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, such as Mark O’Connor and Alison Krause, but there has always been a role in bluegrass circles for the young virtuoso. Most of the time, though, it can be a fairly long slog up the path to respectability.

That said, K.C. Groves might be one of those lucky folks who take a faster route. Her songwriting skills are impressive and K.C.’s vocals have that pure, lonesome quality that aficionados seek out.

Judging from the personnel on this album, she also has some mighty fine contacts, superb artists in their own right who are willing to help her out. Backup vocals feature the golden pipes of Laurie Lewis, Peter Rowan and Tom Rozum, while the instrumental prowess of Mark Schatz (bass and banjo), Tim O’Brien (mandolin and fiddle), Tony Furtado (banjo) and Sally Van Meter (dobro) helps provide the backdrop for Groves’ supple singing. Dick Siegel, Ann Arbor’s underappreciated poet-songwriter, also makes his own contribution, playing guitar on one tune (the delightful "Pony Days") and co-writing (with Groves) the folk-oriented "I’ll Take You in My Arms."

Groves is the undeniable focus of the album, however, and that is how it should be. Despite the hallowed names accompanying her efforts, this whole project would fall apart if the singing and the tunes didn’t hold up under repeated scrutiny. Songs such as "Little Sky," "Peach Pie" and the title work are minigems deserving of attention from other vocalists, and Groves communicates the individual beauties of each with deceptive grace.

Can You Hear It? is one of those efforts that make you want to hear the next one. What more effective endorsement can a singer-songwriter get?

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