Anyone who might have heard cuts from the debut, self-titled album from Darin and Brooke Aldridge and wondered, “Who are they?” needs to go ahead and get acquainted with the self-styled “Sweethearts Of Bluegrass.” You’re going to be hearing their names a lot.
The newlywed duo got a lot of airtime with the single “The Sweetest Waste Of Time” off the first album, but their follow up, So Much In Between, provides listeners with a strong lineup from top to bottom, beginning with “Lonely Ends Where Love Begins,” “We’re In This Love Together,” and “That’s Just Me Lovin’ You.” Listeners will find out quickly this is one CD that you can put in the player and then forget to change it out, as the songs roll by easy and smooth, and some time later you find you’re on the third tracking. You certainly will not need the skip button on your disc player. If their debut effort put the Aldridges on the map, So Much In Between may be the launching pad for a major breakout.
Darin Aldridge provides solid vocal presence and great harmonies. However, without a doubt, it is Brooke’s clear, rich, fresh voice that makes this CD stand apart. If this album is any indication, it won’t be long before Brooke finds her name on industry award nominations for Female Vocalist Of The Year. Strong work is not only shown on the aforementioned songs, but also on “He’s Already There” and “Wildflower.” You may find yourself being reminded of legend Patty Loveless after hearing “Things In Life.”
A solid backing band and stellar production (as well as some songwriting) from veteran Jerry Salley makes the album a must-have for those who appreciate modern bluegrass/southern gospel with a nod to the past. There’s even a tune, “Our Little World,” by the First Couple of bluegrass songwriting, Tom T. and Dixie Hall, evidence that the Aldridges have a bright future.
An aspect of production that is probably overlooked in all types of music is the ordering of the songs on an album. This effort could be used in a classroom as the model for “How To.” Listeners have no choice but to be drawn in with well-paced, balanced vocals on the first third of the disc. Songwriter Lisa Shaffer shines, as she authored or co-authored all four cuts. Salley had a hand in two of those and two others as well.
If you want a CD that covers love and gospel, this is a can’t miss. It is extremely hard to find something to not like about this sophomore effort from the Aldridges. Traditionalists will find a true bluegrass instrumental touch, gospel fans will love the message, and others will appreciate the freshness of the vocals and harmony. Crossroads Music has added yet another thoroughbred group to a stable that already includes chart-toppers and award-winners such as Balsam Range and the Boxcars. (Crossroads Music, P.O. Box Box 829, Arden, NC 28704, www.crossroadsmusic.com.) MB