Facets of Folk Review, Kevin Slick, President, Colorado Bluegrass Music Society September 1, 2020
The word “facets” implies a gem or crystal with different surfaces where light is transformed showing the viewer what lies beneath the surface, often uncovering new images. Mara Levine’s most recent album is aptly named as she shines a variety of acoustic roots music through her own lens, creating a wonderful array of sounds. The album opens with “You Reap What You Sow”, written by Susan Shann, which is powered along by an all-star team of bluegrass players including Greg Blake, Bob Harris, Rob Ickes, Andy Leftwich, Mollie O’Brien, Mark Schatz and Scott Vestal. One might be tempted to try to identify the sounds as Folk or Americana but that would miss the point. There’s a unifying element of acoustic instrumentation and stellar vocals to be sure, but as genres like Folk, Bluegrass or Americana continue to grow and diversify and boundaries become more blurred perhaps this will be an album that helps tear down artificial walls that try to keep the genres apart.
Any listener who comes to this album with a Bluegrass background will recognize not only many of the players but songwriters like Si Kahn and Bill Staines not to mention wonderful harmonies that lift the songs to someplace special.
I appreciate this album not only as a beautiful recording and tasteful selection of songs which it clearly is but also as a chance to consider how we categorize music. Back in the days of record stores I would buy albums from all the different sections and often found there were records that could easily be placed in Folk, Country, Bluegrass, Singer-Songwriter, Pop, etc. This album is an excellently crafted blend of acoustic instrumentation with stunning vocals that will be cherished by anyone who wants to stop for a moment to listen. - Kevin Slick, President, Colorado Bluegrass Music Society