Following on the success of their first release Old Friends Get Together, J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson, and Paul Williams have released another fine collection of 12 songs with solid instrumental support and sterling vocal work. This offering features Lawson on guitar, Williams on mandolin, Crowe on banjo, Josh Swift on resonator guitar, Jason Barie on fiddle, and Tim Surrett on bass. Lawson and Williams take turns on lead vocals, with J.D. on baritone.
The focus here has to be the vocal work. Instrumentally, one could ask for more fireworks with J.D. and Doyle among those present, but it’s pretty clear the interest by the principles was to simply record the songs they love to sing, and while the instrumentation is just fine, the vocals are the highlight, with harmonies that are as good as any you will ever hear. The picture on the cover may not resemble this trio from 35 years ago, but listening to Williams’ “Blue Memories,” leaves no doubt this combination is one of the best vocal trios in bluegrass. Equally strong are two Jimmy Martin/Williams compositions, “Pretending That I Don’t Care” and “Little Angel In Heaven,” Bill Anderson’s fine “Once A Day,” and Johnny Bond’s “Those Gone And Left Me Blues.” The Louvin Brothers make a strong contribution with “Do You Live What You Preach,” “Insured Beyond The Grave,” and Rebe Gosdin’s “Don’t Laugh,” (popularized by the Louvins). Williams also turns in exceptional solo performances on the classic “Hills Of Roane County” and a beautiful version of “Fraulein.”
Highly recommended and, once you hear Williams’ harmony on the chorus to “Once A Day,” you’ll realize you’ve definitely received your money’s worth on this one. (Mountain Home, P.O. Box 829, Arden, NC 28704, www.crossroadsmusic.com.)AW