Bobby Powell and Tim Jones, founding members of Carolina Blue, now have five CD credits to their resume with their first Pinecastle Music release, I Hear Bluegrass Calling Me.From Brevard, N.C., Powell and Jones wrote 9 of the 13 tracks, along with banjoist James McDowell contributing the instrumental “Fried Taters And Onions.”
Guitarist and vocalist Powell, as well as mandolinist and vocalist Jones, write in the tradition of Bill Monroe. “I Hear Bluegrass Calling Me,” from Roy Chapman, sets up the listener for what follows by including pieces of “Rocky Top” and “Blue Moon Of Kentucky.” “Cold, Lonely And Blue” follows and has some of the early Monroe bluesy feel, but with some Reno flavor sprinkled in by banjoist James McDowell. “Rusty Rails” was the single release and is also featured in a video on the band’s website. Tim Jones’ “Longing For Home” is a lonesome accounting of rural life.
In addition to some liner notes from Bobby Osborne, we get to enjoy guest Joe Mullins with some harmony singing on “Dark Mountainside,” a high lonesome double-murder ballad. Brooke Aldridge also adds beautiful vocal harmony on “Mary Do You Wonder,” giving a soft touch to the love song. “Glory Bound Train” is a straight-ahead gospel number. “Mountain Flower” is Powell’s other fresh composition, featuring some wonderful mandolin backup from Jones. Powell also wrote “I’ll Meet Her In Heaven” in the traditional bluegrass sound about a loved one going to heaven and leaving others behind.
“Breaking Up Rocks” fills the requirement to include a prison song in a traditional bluegrass project. “Sometimes Good Girls Go Bad,” co-written by Powell and Jones, is a sad story of a girl leaving a man due to poor choices. This recording grows on the listener with each playing and serves to remind one of how good songwriting and excellent musicianship make for fine results. This recording, hopefully, is the work that proves to be the breakthrough the band so richly deserves since forming in 2007. (Pinecastle Records, 2514 River Rd., Ste. 105, Piedmont, SC 29673.)BW