Snakes Alive! Take an all-star cast of musician"s musicians, fresh, original songs, and bluegrass classics. Put them together, and you have the first and only release from the Dreadful Snakes. Pat Enright"s original, "Who"s That Knocking at My Door," opens the album. His lead vocal, a cross between Jimmie Rodgers and heart singers like Mac Wiseman, strikes the right tone of mounting fear, offset by the band"s sprightly picking. Jerry Douglas" killer dobro fills add a touch of winking menace. The band displays its formidable instrumental chops on the title cut, a full-speed-ahead, contemporary banjo breakdown from the pen of Bela Fleck. Fiddler Blaine Sprouse, Douglas, and mandolinist Roland White give Fleck a run for his money as they each get a chance in the spotlight. With "Story of the Pharisees," bassist Mark Hembree contributes one of the best bluegrass gospel songs of the contemporary era, a pointed critique of -- and warning to -- legalistic, self-righteous Christians. Weighted with low-baritone singers, the sound of the gospel quartet is unusually warm and rich, and Fleck"s guitar accompaniment is particularly fine. With three former Blue Grass Boys -- White, Sprouse, and Hembree -- on board, it"s no surprise that the Dreadful Snakes gravitate toward the bluegrass songs of Bill Monroe. The best of these are "Travelin" Down This Lonesome Road," on which Sprouse matches the vocalists" timbre and feeling to absolute perfection. Even Fleck"s banjo twangs in sympathy with the desolation expressed in the lyrics. "In Despair" showcases the burnished sound of the Snakes" vocal trio, and screaming instrumental breaks from Fleck and Roland White. "Blue Yodel #4" has a galvanic, live feel, as the Snakes surrender to the sheer joy of the music. The fun continues with a swinging, bluesy version of the Louvin Brothers" "Cash on the Barrelhead." Enright"s vocal is a delightful mix of irony and despair.