Rhonda Vincent Destination Life Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A return to form for the sassy bluegrass chanteuse.

Michael Quinn 2009

20 years after her solo debut on disc, Rhonda Vincent follows up last year's disappointingly uneven Good Thing Going with a strong studio album that finds her collaborating with newly reconstituted touring accompanists, The Rage (the outgoing Kenny Ingram and Darrell Webb replaced now by Hunter Berry on fiddle and Mickey Harris on bass) in what she insists is ''the first Rhonda and The Rage project as a complete joint effort''.

It's Ben Helson's evocative guitar and, especially, the characterful banjo of Aaron McDaris that gives Destination Life much of its character, opening track Last Time Loving You full of dancing instrumental buoyancy and clever phrasing from Vincent herself. I Can Make Him Whisper I Love You pulls Vincent's bluegrass leanings back towards mainstream country and western but is dispatched with such easy conviction that it makes an early claim for the album's standout song. (Which can't be said of the rather saccharine title track.)

Remarkable, if eventually somewhat exhausting, is the sheer energy of many of the songs – Heart Wrenching Lovesick Memories driven along like a musical emetic unwilling to dwell on the, well, heart wrenching lovesick memories it bewails.

Even more accelerated is the breakneck Anywhere Is Home When You're With Me, although things start to slow with the affectionately tongue-in-cheek What A Woman Wants To Hear and I Heard My Saviour Calling Me, lavishly decorated with close harmony accompaniment.

New Rage member Ben Helson duets with puppy dog bathos on the twilit chill of Crazy What A Lonely Heart Will Do and the band play up a storm on the instrumental Eighth of January.

When I Travel My Last Mile (He Will Hold My Hand) boasts a heartfelt one-take live vocal from Vincent with immaculate harmonies from Helson and Harris to close an album that bodes well for a partnership already sounding on top form.

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