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Talent minus passion

By California

Sugar Hill Records: 1992

Technically brilliant, California is held back by a lack of stylistic vision – they range all over the compass from Irish to bluegrass to generic folk, with no one style seeming more at home than the others.

But make no mistake, the members of this quintet (guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin and bass), can play with the best. Banjoist John Hickman is especially noteworthy for his tasty picking. Both in solos and group improvisation, California shows a deft touch and agile manner.

If they ever displayed as much passion as talent, there'd be no keeping up with this band.