Mountain Home

There’s nothing particularly overwhelming about Chris Jones & the Night Drivers in terms of flashy picking or pyrotechnic vocals. This veteran band’s power lies in its understated soulfulness, earnestness, and subtlety. These qualities shine through brightly in the band’s finely crafted original songs and its passionate and persuasive performances of them. As a little background, the Night Drivers were formed by Jones back in 1995 after he’d spent a decade in support roles with Dave Evans and the band Special Consensus. In the years since, the four Night Drivers—Chris Jones (lead vocals and guitar), Ned Luberecki (banjo), Mark Stoffel (mandolin and tenor vocals), and Jon Weisberger (bass and baritone vocals)—have won eight individual IBMA Awards in various categories. Three members—Jones, Luberecki and Weisberger—have also been hosts on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction.

Run Away Tonight follows up the band’s 2013 studio album, Lonely Comes Easy, and its intriguing 2014 Live At The Old Feed Store. It also marks the Night Riders’ twentieth anniversary. The new release, the band’s first for Mountain Home, finds its members in peak form as pickers and songwriters. Jones and Weisberger, together or separately, wrote or co-wrote seven of the 12 tracks, and Stoffer and Luberecki each contribute a rousing original instrumental. “Laurie,” the opening cut (penned by Jones and Weisberger) is a fiery and urgent love plea. It’s followed by “One Night In Paducah” (Jones/Weisberger), a haunting ballad about reckless chances taken and the shattered dreams that result. “Once You’re Gone” (Weisberger and Jeremy Garrett) and “She’s Just About To Say Goodbye” (Jones /Weisberger) both vividly capture the emotional agony of being entangled in a crumbling romantic relationship.

Run Away Tonight also includes several inspired tips of the hat to tradition, including a fine reprise of Flatt & Scruggs’ “Thinking About You” and a moving rendition of “Pinto The Wonder Horse Is Dead,” a classic story-song from the vast catalogue of Tom T. Hall. The band similarly shines on the oft-recorded seafaring ballad, “The Leaving Of Liverpool” and a lovely gospel ode called “My Portion And My Cup,” co-written by Jones and Donna Ulisse. (Mountain Home, P.O. Box 829, Arden, NC 28704,

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