Taken

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Rhonda has straddled the classic and the contemporary throughout her bluegrass career. With Taken, she blends her restrained and polished style with imagery-filled lyrics. The album’s first single, “Sweet Summertime,” waxes nostalgic over childhood memories of summertime games, church on Sunday, Grandma’s kitchen and the recurring nod to cornbread-mix maker Martha White. Driving banjo and a spirited vocal beautifully convey a lover’s longing to hear that singing engine rolling down the highway on “Tonight My Baby’s Coming Home,” a cover of the 1972 hit by Barbara Mandrell. The lush title track features a mournful fiddle solo and rugged harmonies by pop artist Richard Marx. Dolly Parton makes an appearance on “In the Garden by the Fountain,” her sugary-sweet soprano tightly interwoven with Rhonda’s rich alto. Bluegrass fans should indeed be taken with this much-anticipated release.

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