Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver’s latest album, In Session, captures a celebrated veteran band at full power. It’s a masterful showcase of imaginative song choices, superlative harmonies, inspired vocal arrangements and powerhouse picking. The production, handled by Lawson with the assistance of recording engineer Josh Swift, is crisp, clean, and seamless.
The powerhouse opening cut, “Roll Big River” (penned by Dustin Pyrtle and Quicksilver bass player/guitarist/vocalist Eli Johnston) conveys unrestrained confidence and exuberance, as does the rousing yet meditative instrumental “Evening Prayer Blues.” Love songs such as “You, You, You” (written by Lotar Olias and Robert Mellin) and the painfully earnest “Wilma Walker” (Donna Ulisse and Rick Stanley) highlight the band’s soulfulness, sensitivity, and exquisite barbershop quartet-style harmonies.
Not surprisingly, many of the songs on In Session are steeped in nostalgia and the accompanying sentiments of loss and longing. (This is mainstream bluegrass after all.) The haunting “Calling All Her Children Home” (penned by the great Carl Jackson with Aaron Wilburn) evokes the Southern Motherland as a mysterious, beckoning spiritual force that rides on the night wind. “I’d Just Be Fool Enough” (Melvin Endsley) is about a man’s desperate struggle with desire and temptation and is also a harmony showpiece. “Weep And Cry” (Charlie Monroe) is a jaunty, old-time no-love-lost ballad. “Big Eight Wheeler” (Billy Henson), another vocal tour de force, is the soulful lament of a long-distance driver who’s homesick, world weary, and just wants to go home. Another standout cut is the tragic “Captain,” penned by Eli Johnston and Cody Shuler. (Mountain Home, P.O. Box 829, Arden, NC 28704, www.doylelawson.com.)BA