Rhythm & Views

Jo Wilkinson and Grains of Sand

Jo Wilkinson's big and powerful voice has never had any trouble filling up a concert stage, or in this case a recording studio. But the magic in this project is how she so eloquently shares that space with her makeshift band of Robert Miranda on acoustic leads; Louie Levinson on pedal steel, nylon string guitar and dobro; Shanti Foster on violin, guitar and mandolin; Jack Wood on bass; and "Uncle" Dave Jeffrey on drums.

These arrangements allow the supporting players--more ensemble than actual band--to share in the spotlight so that these tunes can more fully come to life. This is best evidenced on "The Road Alone," "Southern Clay" and the anthem-like closer, "The Prayer." With just enough bounce and backbeat from the rhythm section, the words and images from these tunes are gently pushed forward by the supporting fills of the violin, pedal steel, guitar leads and harmony vocals. Even "The Shores of Lake Louisa" and "Where the Love Is," two remakes originally recorded with Four Corners, are fleshed out and reclaimed here with this added instrumentation.

Kudos also go out to engineer and co-producer Duncan Stitt, who, in putting his own iconoclastic songs and career aside, is becoming one of Tucson's most accomplished recording engineers.