John Cowan Band: New Tattoo

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John Cowan’s status as a bluegrass legend was established long ago. Possessing perhaps the most distinctive voice in acoustic music and membership in the genre-bending band Newgrass Revival guaranteed Cowan a place in the pantheon of bluegrass luminaries. “New Tattoo,” his latest release on Pinecastle Records, does much to add to his legend. Cowan’s operatic tenor wail courses through songs ripe with both bluegrass and country inspirations. It is the final track, though, that truly makes this album special. On “Driven,” Cowan confronts the omnipresent pain of being a childhood abuse survivor. Perhaps the most difficult song he has ever recorded, it could become his most important. Cowan has since been a spokesperson for Project Safe Place, a national organization charged with supporting childhood molestation victims. Long known for pushing boundaries with his music, Cowan is now shattering them with his honesty.

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