Ten bluegrass albums that will change your world

Bluegrass might be the punk version of country.
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By the time she had formalized her dynamic backing band Golden Highway, Molly Tuttle had already been chosen the IBMA Guitarist of the Year twice. She would add a couple of Vocalist awards a few years later. She was not yet 30.

Teamed with Golden Highway, the magic was immediate. The classic five-piece bluegrass outfit featured virtuosos at every turn, all capable of playing any type of music. Bronwyn Keith-Hynes sweeping fiddle runs trade-off with Dominick Leslie’s lightning-fast mandolin from the other side of the stage.

Between the poles, the banjo and backing vocals from the amazingly unrelated Kyle Tuttle and Shelby Means’ bass and occasional vocals provide stellar support. On Crooked Tree, she also calls on a host of bluegrass royalty, from Billy Strings to Sierra Hull and Ketch Secor for support. Molly co-produced with the ever-present Jerry Douglas, who lends his dobro to the mix.

The result is a first-rate collection of tunes, from the haunting, swampy “Dooley’s Farm,” to the joyous “Side Saddle.” “Nashville Mess Around” and “Castilleja” let the band go wild. Centering it all, the title track is one of the best songs, regardless of genre, produced in the States over the past few years. There is not a weak track on the disc. Tuttle followed up Crooked Tree with City of Gold. Both albums won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. Molly, like Billy Strings, just turned 31 years old. The future of bluegrass looks pretty darn solid.

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