Early in their career, I supposed that Front Range ran the risk of being stereotyped as a clone band. The influence that Hot Rize had on their sound is indisputable and perfectly natural, given that they were neighbors and friends, to say nothing of Hot Rize’s position as one of the most important and influential bluegrass bands of the 1980s. But as Front Range’s career has progressed, they have matured and refined their sound, and successfully avoided the traps that have caught less talented or focussed bands.
Bob Amos continues to establish himself as one of the foremost songwriters in bluegrass music today and wisely, Front Range relies heavily on his material. Silent Ground includes five of Amos’s songs, including the spooky title cut and the lovely ballad Sweetest Flower of My Heart. Three more were written by banjo player Ron Lynam, my favorite being Cowtown Boogie, a western swing tune pulled off with flair and style.
Strong original material sets Front Range apart from most other bands working today. Add their tight harmonies, thoughtful arrangements (give a listen to the lovely gospel My Lord, What A Mourning) and solid instrumental skill – from Lynam’s melodic banjo to Mike Lantz’s slick mandolin, with some tasty breaks contributed by state-of-the-art fiddle player, Ron Stewart, and it all combines to make Silent Ground one of the most enjoyable recordings in some time.