Grassville is a quartet based in Social Circle, Ga., consisting of banjoist Aaron Clegg, guitarist Jake Hegwood, fiddler John Rice and bassist John Nipper. Who sings what can’t be determined from the liner notes. The band is augmented by guest mandolin from Brian Stephans and guest fiddle from Bruce Hoffman. Lonely Tonight is their debut recording.
For that debut, the group presents a set of ten songs set mostly in the traditional style and mostly in the medium tempo. Eight of the ten are band originals joining covers of Jonathan Edwards’ “How Long Have I Been Waiting,” and the Wayne Winkle/ Craig Market tune “Down The Line.” Those two covers rank among the best the album has to offer. “How Long…” is taken at a slower, more lilting, less forceful pace, which takes a minute to adjust to, but which ultimately works well. “Down The Line,” the one true fast song, closes the album on a high note.
Among the originals, the best, and my favorite on the recording, is the moonshine/revenuer tune, “The Raid.” You could almost call it a “patter song,” lots of details being built around the rippled and oft-repeated line “when the lawmen come a knockin’ at the door.” The good-timey, jug band feel is quite engaging, recalling Dr. Hook’s “Cover Of The Rolling Stone.”
Writing about “Black Ops,” or special forces, was an interesting choice of subject and one certainly outside the normal range of subjects. Unfortunately, the tune itself and its arrangement are rather average, trying too hard to be ominous. A similar “average” quality, either in the lyrics or the tune or both, permeates the rest of the recording as well. Trouble, love lost, and moving on are acceptable themes, but need more than the stock images found here to make them fresh and raise this solidly-played album to above average. (John Nipper, 1070 Cooper Road, Social Circle, GA 30025 www.thegrassvillebluegrassband.com.)BW