At age eighty, sixty-two years into his music career (including 48 years as a member of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry), singer-mandolin maestro Bobby Osborne is still going strong. This latest installment from Osborne and his band, the Rocky Top X-Press, is certainly a sturdy addition to his vast catalog.
New Bluegrass & Old Heartaches benefits from the energy, vision and expertise of Glen Duncan, who co-produced this ten-song collection (in collaboration with Osborne and his son and acoustic bass player Bobby Osborne, Jr.) Duncan also, plays dazzling fiddle and sings seamless harmonies throughout and also wrote two of the ten songs, along with the excellent liner notes. It was Duncan’s judicious decision to frame Osborne’s stalwart leads and the accompanying three-part harmonies in an all-acoustic, all-bluegrass setting featuring just straight-ahead mandolin, fiddle, banjo, acoustic guitar and acoustic bass. Just a few of the highlights include the ensemble’s rendition of Duncan’s “I Wrecked My Life For You,” the ominous “Muddy Waters” (penned by Phil Rosenthal) and Osborne’s jaunty reprise of the Fred Rose classic, “Low And Lonely.” The band also serves up a moving performance on Greg Preece’s “Born In Kentucky.”
An added delight is “The Last Bridge You’ll Burn,” a vivid but long-lost honky-tonk lament that Osborne wrote and demoed in the early 1970s, but only recently rediscovered in his archives. (Rural Rhythm, P.O. Box 750, Mt. Juliet, TN 37121, www.ruralrhythm.com.)BA