The most striking thing about this debut from the local alt-country bluegrass act is the degree to which banjo/mandolin player Greg Kells sounds like Tom Waits. He's got a raspy voice that echoes that of the troubadour. The comparison rings particularly true on the album opener, "Dig." Elsewhere, Kells' voice doesn't sound so raspy. He croons a bit in the rollicking "Willie Nelson," a tribute to the great country singer. Since the band features so many seasoned players (guys like guitarist Ant Petti and Derek Poindexter have been playing local bands for years), the group easily shifts through different styles, at times emphasizing the bluegrass side of its sound ("Johnson Island Rats") and at other times playing the kind of cowpunk that evokes the Reverend Horton Heat ("King Shit"), albeit with kazoos. All in all, the songs here are good fun.
Blackgrass Baptism performs at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 12 at the 5 O'Clock Lounge in Lakewood.