Music » Livewire

The Mammals

With King Wilkie. Wednesday, May 3, at the Beachland Tavern.


Here's another group of hip young folkies with a high UTP -- Upset the Purists --index. On the Mammals' latest, Departure, all references to the title's significance are superfluous: The get-up-and-dance contemporary bluegrass of the band's previous efforts are replaced with a gentler folk sound. Electric guitar and keyboards are as prominent as fiddle and banjo.

Departure finds the Mammals almost sophisticated. Even the political messages (could a band in which Pete Seeger's grandson is a member ever not be stridently left-wing?) in songs like "Alone on the Homestead" and "Sólo le Pido a Dios" get a soft sell. The Mammals are another band that will risk losing a few followers in the hope of gaining a few more. They'll probably do that, as the quality of the songs is high and the musicianship is as tight as ever, albeit considerably more polished. Let's also not forget that Ruth Unger, like Alison Krauss, has a terrific set of pipes and the ability to wring every drop of soul from her fiddle.

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