In recent years, versatile multi-instrumentalist bandleader Doyle Lawson, whose bluegrass roots run back a half-century, has emerged as one of the music’s most revered elder statesmen.
Like his distinguished contemporary J.D. Crowe, Lawson has always had the flexibility and willingness to adjust the dynamics of his band to the new talents that join or emerge from within, thus keeping his sound fresh, vital, and continually evolving.
The preeminent talent in Quicksilver’s current iteration is Mike Rodgers, who is front and center nearly throughout Drive Time, Lawson’s new release. Rodgers handles most of the lead vocals, though he is spelled here and there by Corey Hensley. And he co-wrote several of the strongest songs in this slim seven-song collection. He also stepped up to provide the subtle drum figures that Lawson has added to bolster his rhythm section. “Country Store,” the most upbeat and celebratory song here, is a Rodgers original, as is the anguished ballad, “Leavin’ And Lovin’ You” and “Gone, Long Gone,” a supercharged lament that’s brightened with some hot picking. Lawson and the band really strut their superb four-part harmonies on the hooky, euphoric “Love On Arrival,” which is bound to set toes tapping. The boys take a similarly inspired instrumental workout on Lawson’s own “Greenbriar Hop.”
It’s hard to quibble with such a first-rate album like this, except to note its brevity. With Quicksilver in such top form, it’s a bit of a let-down that we only get seven tracks here. (Mountain Home Music Co., P.O. Box 829, Arden, NC, 28704, www.crossroadsmusic.com.) BA