John Cowan Band New Tattoo

From premier bluegrass label Pinecastle comes this newgrass, barn-burning offering from John Cowan and his band of crazy strings players. On his first studio record in four years, Cowan quickly makes up for lost time. He opens the disc with the fiery "Carla’s Got a New Tattoo” — a bluegrass stomp that grabs you by the jugular from the frenzied runs of the fiddle and doesn’t let you go until the last squeak of the violin fades. Cowan rose to fame as the lead singer of New Grass Revival — a groundbreaking new breed of a bluegrass band that featured Sam Bush, Bela Fleck and Pat Flynn. Produced by Jay Joyce (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt), Cowan conjures up some deadly acoustic ghosts throughout to produce a record that sizzles and smokes. From "Hurting Sure” — the country-folk ballad that is reminiscent of John Denver — to the old school bluegrass of "Working in the New Mine,” New Tattoo showcases Cowan’s varied influences. While the music is high-spirited, not all the subject matter is light as the closing track — the autobiographical "Drown” — illustrates. Here, Cowan touches on the taboo subject of child molestation and the life long scar this tragedy can leave on its recipient. (Pinecastle)