Run Boy Run: So Sang the Whippoorwill (Self-Released)

It's been an exciting year already for this young, bluegrass-oriented quintet, whose members are split between the Phoenix and Tucson areas. The group has appeared on the popular radio show A Prairie Home Companion twice and counts its host, Garrison Keillor, among its fans. Now comes the release of the band's refreshing and satisfying new album.

Run Boy Run clearly is a top-notch string band, having honed its collective chops in musical families and during years of playing the bluegrass and acoustic-music festival circuit. And all five members contribute original songs on the new album. But the group's music also shows off the lovely voices of its three female singers, including amazing three-part harmonies. Especially good showcases for their entwining vocals are the title track, the rousing "Roving Davey" and the intricate melodies of "Hoot Owl."

Perhaps the best cut is the most ambitious. Bekah Sandoval's "Little Girl" verges on the wondrous, beginning with the three ladies singing a cappella. Then the instruments come in, dark and mournful, almost-avant-garde, led by Grace Rolland's cello. This evolves into a lush, Celtic-Appalachian breakdown. In just 4 1/2 minutes, it encapsulates a full emotional journey.

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