This impressive ten-cut album marks another big step forward for award-winning Kentucky singer-songwriter Dave Adkins. Adkins, best known for previous hits like “Change Her Mind,” “Sold,” and “Pike County Jail,” along with past recording collaborations with Ronnie Bowman, Russell Moore, Marty Raybon, and the Lonesome River Band, has written or co-written four tunes on this new collection. One showstopper is “Blood Feud (The Hatfields & McCoys),” which Adkins co-wrote (and sings here) with Larry Cordle. Though it’s a heck of a challenge to encapsulate a complex, decades-long Appalachian clan war into a three and a half minute ballad, Adkins and Cordle come as close as anyone has to doing it.
Right Or Wrongkicks off with “Blue Blue Rain,” written by Jerry Salley. It’s a driving, up-tempo lament that expresses vividly how a bleak, rainy day can add new layers of misery to a garden-variety case of heartbreak. “Roll Little River,” which Adkins penned with Terry Foust, Mitchell Brown, and Carl Caldwell, is a rollicking chain-gang plaint with some kicking instrumental interludes. On “Goodbye Caroline” (Eli Johnston and Blake Grisham), Adkins along with able vocal assistance from Carl Caldwell (tenor) and Mitchell Brown (baritone) serve up some smooth, powerhouse pop-flavored harmonies. Just as powerful is the gospel ode “I Can Only Imagine” (written by Bart Millard) on which Adkins gets stellar vocal assists from Amanda Cook, Katelyn Delgado, and Missy Pyne Delgado.
One of the most haunting and enigmatic songs is a philosophical Adkins original called “Right Or Wrong,” about the weight of our choices and the prospect of being able to one day look back on a life lived well and lived right. (Mountain Fever Records, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd. NW, Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.)BA