Greg Blake, the fine lead singer and guitarist with Jeff Scroggins & Colorado and a West Virginia transplant, has released his first solo effort, and the results are very impressive. He’s joined by a top-flight lineup of supporting musicians including Scroggins on banjo, John Reischman on mandolin, Sally Van Meter on resonator guitar, Mark Schatz on bass, Blaine Sprouse on fiddle, and Claire Lynch, Laurie Lewis, KC Groves, and Jeff Brown on occasional vocals.
With an excellent cast of supporting musicians, Blake’s choice of material is equally strong. Included here are Laurie Lewis’ “Hills Of My Home” with Lewis on harmony vocals, Carter Stanley’s “Sweetest Love,” a rousing version of “Home Is Where The Heart Is,” and Monroe’s “Thinking About You.” There are two fine Johnny Cash songs: “Hey Porter,” which Blake sings like he wrote it and also features some particularly nice banjo work by Scroggins, and a very effective sweet version of “I Still Miss Someone,” with harmony by Van Meter and KC Groves that blends nicely with Blake’s powerful lead singing. “Cruisin’ Timber,” an instrumental from David and Dorsey Harvey, showcases Blake’s lead guitar work and more creative banjo work by Scroggins. “Fifty Miles From Nowhere” is a well-crafted original from Blake and Lyla Carder. Ian Tyson’s “Summer Wages” receives as nice a treatment as any you will find anywhere, with some very tasteful resonator work by Van Meter. “Home” features strong high harmony work by Claire Lynch.
As well done as all those are (and they are), the highlights of this release have to be “Turn Your Heart Toward Home” by Steve and Annie Chapman and Brumley’s “Dreaming Of A Little Cabin,” if on nothing more than the strength of Blake’s soulful singing and Claire Lynch’s vocal contributions—very, very nice. This is a well conceived, nicely executed release with top-flight songs and excellent vocals and instrumental work. Highly recommended. (www.gregblakemusic.com.)AW