Slack Press

Richmond Music Journal , June 2003

Slack Family “Pickin’ Up the Slack” (Planetary)

Bluegrass purists are often offended that the Slack Family are called bluegrass. That seems self-serving. Certainly, they play a mixture of bluegrass, folk and acoustic. Yet, influences from other genres abound. But bluegrass itself is a combination of musical styles, so passing judgement on traditionality feels a mite silly. But that's what I've come to expect from lawnchair-toting fanatics racing across event grounds at festivals.

The Slack Family has one of the most calming aimable sounds around, an ironic description considering the energy with which they play. Joe Wharff's serene, yet melancholy, vocals, as well as his taste for somber and subdued songs takes the highspeed finger-picking into a whole 'nother world.

Andy Burns and Brian Sulser take over the vocals on the more upbeat tunes, a place where Wharff wouldn't fit.

There's not too much to add about this group of extremely talented musicians. Their playing is superb. I found myself singing along on six of the fifteen tracks, which ain't bad.

There's a saying about having just enough slack to hang yourself. Picking up the slack sounds like a good idea.

-Robert Stutler  

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