In his liner notes to As The Crow Flies, Sonny Osborne writes, "listen closely and you'll hear the making of a great fiddle player...," as if the Osborne Brothers would ever hire anything else. David Crow has staked his claim here. In addition to Crow's fine playing, it's great to hear a collection of instrumentals from the Osbornes.
Crow plays hard and his style has bite, more like Chubby Wise than Byron Berline. The traditional Mississippi Sawyer and Crow's own tune, River Trace, are standouts, with flawless, driving rhythm from Sonny and Bob, Terry Eldridge, Terry Smith and Gene Wooten. The fiddle and banjo duet on Pretty Little Indian is exactly right - Sonny's backup work is, as always, the perfect example of how it should be done. The dobro solo in St. Anne's Reel is a great example of why Gene Wooten is finally gaining the recognition he's long deserved. The waltzes and slower tunes show a deft touch and relaxed feel, neither rushed nor draggy.
All in all, though, As The Crow Flies resembles nothing so much as a demo of Crow's playing, rather than a coherent collection of fiddle music. We get the best examples of Crow's technical skills, but it's hard to otherwise explain why he chose to include yet another version of Sally Goodin or Angeline The Baker, or the very odd Minuet In G Major. Crow plays them well, extremely well, but they don't really add anything to the overall package.
With a bit more experience and maturity, we undoubtedly will hear even better and more focused efforts from Crow in the future. If he's not a great fiddle player yet, he'll do just fine until one comes along.