Rough Guide have come up trumps with this wonderful sampler of bluegrass music. Characterised by the banjo, fiddle and mandolin, bluegrass' roots lie in 1930s and in the combination of many European and native American folk styles such as Irish, jazz, blues, East European polka and gospel. The CD contains famous artists such as the amazing Alison Krauss and Union Station, represented here by their classic track "Every Time You Say Goodbye", and older pioneers such as the Country Gentlemen, featuring the banjo ace Bill Emerson. A commendable balance is struck between vocal and instrumental tracks, and between faster and slower tunes. Indeed, the variety of artists is testament to the multitude of styles that the genre enjoys. The scintillating pace of Emerson and Waldron's instrumental "Shiloh" sits comfortably with the bittersweet beauty of Hazel Dickens' voice on the ballad "Hills of Home", as does Red Allen's cheery "Chicken Reel" juxtapose neatly with the sad tale in Lynn Morris' "Mama's Hand", a beautiful, if not tear-jerking, retrospect on a young woman leaving home. If you enjoyed the soundtrack to the hit film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", then this CD is a must for you. Approached with an open mind, the listener will find little disagreeable here. The raw beauty of this truly 'unplugged' experience, with its high-class playing and singing will surely not fail to delight any fan of folk and roots music. Let the sound of the Appalachians carry you away to a simpler, happier time!