There aren't enough stars in the sky(e)!
Caroline Wright | 07/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Last year at IBMA's World Of Bluegrass event in Louisville I stumbled across a jam session in which Elena Skye and her musical co-conspirator Boo Reiners were playing. When I first got there, I didn't think anything special was going on. Just another all-night jam in a smoky suite, right? But after I'd been there a while, I noticed that Elena and Boo, founding members of The Demolition String Band, were pulling the most amazing material out of their collective musical hat. People kept coming to the door, drawn by the sound of those great tunes, rendered in that astonishing voice.
Elena is a tiny vocalist with a huge voice that she controls expertly. One minute it's tender as a lover's smile, the next minute bold as a lover's demand. And Boo is one of those multi-instrumentalist genius fellows who can play anything with strings. The songs they played that night were all tunes they'd recently recorded for an extraordinary CD.
With "Where The Wild, Wild Flowers Grow," their loving tribute to the music of the late Ola Belle Reed, Elena and Boo have made an important contribution to the preservation of some of the strongest, twangiest music ever written by a daughter of Appalachia. Until Rounder reissues some of the old Ola Belle material, and/or a cool tribute album, this album might be considered the best resource for those who want to learn some of the more obscure tunes in Reed's catalogue. Yes, "High On A Mountain" is here, but also "Only The Leading Role," "My Epitaph," "Undone In Sorrow," and "Springtime Of Life." All powerful tunes, delivered powerfully. Elena invested so much of herself to pull the Ola Belle project together, and her commitment to these songs has finally paid off. If you like great songwriting, get this record. If you like great female vocalists, get this record! If you dig Ralph Stanley, Hazel Dickens, Del McCoury--get this record. What a fine time you'll have, with this raw, honest, hauntingly beautiful music."
Mountain High with Elena Skye
John D. Christensen | West Glover, Vermont | 07/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Is Elena Skye channeling the legendary, and unjustifiably obscure, Ola Belle Reed? Apparently, though not necessarily. The first time I heard Elena Skye and the Demolition String Band sing and play these tunes I was actually 'high on a mountain' in Greensboro Bend, Vermont. Elena and the band were performing at an outdoor concert on a perfectly blue-skied July day. The site overlooks a broad green valley high in the hills near a small village in northeastern Vermont. Talk about atmosphere and background for this authentic mountain music from the rural, remote corners of Appalachia (by way of Hoboken, New Jersey I gather). Elena's voice was pure and true, plaintive and evocative as Ola Belle herself might have been. (Hard to say since almost none of Reed's material is currently available on cd. A pity that. But if Skye doesn't capture the spirit and authenticity of the originals it can't be done.) To call this a tribute album rather understates Skye's interpretation of Reed's songs; Skye manages to be both fresh and traditional. This music is accessible without being reduced to a slick pop pablum. Reverent is the best way to describe the approach here. Skye's expert mandolin playing accents and colors nearly every number. And her voice is as high and lonesome as they come, sweet as water from a high mountain stream and pretty as a wildwood flower. You don't need to be a fan of bluegrass, 'old time' music, or even 'Brother Where Art Thou' to enjoy the perfect artistry of this recording. Skye's style is as genuine and engaging as anything Lucinda Williams has managed. She has received not even a fraction of the recognition she deserves."