Music » Livewire

Adrienne Young and Little Sadie

With Steppin' in It. Thursday, August 3, at the Kent Stage.

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Adrienne Young and Little Sadie Thanks in part to the popularity of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the acoustic axis of American roots (or "traditional") music is enjoying its highest profile since the folk-blues boom of the '60s. To quote Madame Stewart, "That's a good thing" -- especially if it allows talents like Adrienne Young and Little Sadie to thrive in today's overcrowded marketplace.

Their gemlike disc The Art of Virtue features crisp, neotraditional bluegrass (standard instrumentation of guitar, banjo, dobro, fiddle, and bass, with exemplary vocal harmonies) colored by judicious undertones of folk, country, and a tiny increment of rock. Young's beguiling voice is dignified, tender, occasionally wistful, and comparable to Alison Krauss' or Rhonda Vincent's, without being imitative. Most important, they don't treat bluegrass as a hothouse flower or sacred relic, but weave in drums (albeit softly played), accordion, pedal-steel guitar, and a very soulful cover of the Grateful Dead's "Brokedown Palace."

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