Dan Paisley & the Southern Grass avidly revisit and revitalize the back pages of bluegrass music’s roots, as well as the back pages of their band’s own rich tradition. With Paisley’s teenage son Ryan on mandolin, that tradition now stretches across three generations.
Paisley and company, on this release as on previous ones, delve into the rough-hewn, high-energy, high-lonesome styles of the music’s founding fathers with a real ferociousness. There’s nothing prettified or progressive about their sound. It’s robust, hard-driving, and infused with soulful intensity and rustic artistry. No fewer than five of the 13 selections on Weary River are old enough to come from the public domain. Along with chestnuts by Bill Monroe (“Come Hither To Go Yonder”) and A.P. Carter (“Darling Nellie Across The Sea”), they’ve also dusted off “Talk To Your Heart,” a 1950s honky-tonk hit for Ray Price, and “Mother Knows Best,” a Marty Robbins original from way back.
Southern Grass’s lineup includes master fiddler T.J. Lundy, whose father Ted once played with Danny’s father Bob in an earlier iteration of this long-standing family band. Lundy and his bandmates strut their hot licks on the instrumentals “Fall Branch” (composed by banjo player Mark Delaney) and Monroe’s “Come Hither To Go Yonder.” They also deliver some amazing harmonies on selections like Carter’s “Darling Nellie,” Merle Haggard’s “Somewhere Between” and the raucous old lament, “Please Don’t Honey Please.”
The real showstopper is the title tune penned by Chris Stuart. It’s a starkly tragic and immensely moving ballad about a doomed and defeated man’s last lamentations as he wades out into a raging river and lets it pull him under. (Patuxent Music, P.O. Box 572, Rockville, MD 20848, www.pxrec.com.)BA