Vertical Land (Stuart Whitford)

Stuart Whitford
Vertical Land

If you still have your Kingston Trio and Limelighters records, you’re probably going to like Stuart Whitford. Vertical Land is a low-key, easy-listening collection of tunes, most written by Whitford. The folk music influence on Whitford’s style is obvious – the songs are soft, thoughful and personal – and one gets the sense that he also has a deep connection to the western part of the US. There are cowboy influences in Out On The Oregon Trail and echoes of Mexico in The Mexican Sky and San Felipe. The phrase "Vertical Land" refers to the name for the canyonlands of New Mexico and Arizona.

With the help of collegues like Missy Raines, Roger Rasnake and Kent Ippolito, the playing is sure and sensitive. There some drawbacks for the bluegrass purist, though. There isn’t a lot of variety in tempos among the songs, and the style and themes don’t lend themselves easily to bluegrass. The connection to bluegrass is tenuous, at best. That’s not to say Vertical Land doesn’t contain some fine music. It does, but it may not be what the bluegrass fan, upon seeing some familiar names on the label, would expect to hear.

(Stuart Whitford; P. O. Box 566; Fredericksburg, VA 22404; Email:
Published in Bluegrass Unlimited, January 2000. Used with permission.