Brand New Strings is definitely banking on packing a powerful punch in a small package. With the release of their second album Stay Tuned, it’s a pretty good bet to make. But, BNS has been on a long continous roll since forming in 2008, winning the SPBGMA International Band Competition in 2009 and releasing a highly successful first album in 2010.
There are just seven songs on the album, but the selection is top-notch, with five contributed to members of the band. With Randall Massengill on guitar and lead vocals, Mike Ramsey on mandolin and lead vocals, Stuart Wyrick on banjo, Preston Schmidt on fiddle, and Tony Mowell on bass, the lineup delivers smooth harmonies, tight instrumentation, tasteful backup picking, and drive that should spell chart success and satisfied audiences.
Massengill’s “Other Side Of Lonesome” was a wise choice to lead off the CD and is already getting airplay and movement on bluegrass and roots music charts with its hard-driving, traditional sound. Wyrick’s banjo-driven “That’s You” is another tune to please traditionalists, while another Massengill gem, “The Guitar,” mixes bluegrass with old country in a nice hybrid. Ramsey contributes a strong gospel number with “Behold The Lamb,” to offer a lot of balance over the course of the brief album.
The band accomplishes a lot in just around twenty minutes of music, showing range and versatility in a polished professional manner, but just as importantly showcasing an ability of the band to create its own material. Relative newcomer to the band, Schmidt handled the producing chores well, and Stay Tuned avoids the “sophomore jinx” so often seen with albums that follow a strong first release. The debut album, No Strings Attached, proved to have a long shelf life after being released, getting plenty of airtime well into 2011. Fans of the band and new listeners alike will not be disappointed with Stay Tuned. (Rural Rhythm, P.O. Box 750, Mt. Juliet, TN 37121, www.brandnewstringsband.com.)MB