Union House Records

Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome come from Cedar Bluff, Va., and bring with them a sound mixing traditional, straight-ahead bluegrass with contemporary flourishes. Some songs are cast in the traditional mode. Some are more contemporary. Most blend the two. Jeff Brown is the lead singer and guitarist, taking some very nice leads, particularly on the fast moving “Kentucky Mandolin.” His singing is a soft, mid-range baritone, sort of thoughtful and pensive, a good match for the modal type of songs the band favors. Being in that range also gives him a good sound when the song has a major-key sound, as on “Let Come And Go What May.”

The rest of the band includes Austin Brown on bass and some lead and rhythm guitar, Kyle Murphy on fiddle, Nick Goad on vocals and mandolin, and Mitch Walker on vocals and banjo. Several guests, including Wayne Taylor and Adam Haynes, chip in here and there. Nothing but good can be said of all their contributions. There is a high degree of polish and poise from all concerned. Solos are sharp. The rhythms and support are tight.

The songs touch on most of the common themes of bluegrass. We’re offered a love song (“A Better Game”), a longing song (“Back Home In Tennessee”), love of region songs (“Soul Of A Mountain Man” and “Appalachia Is My Name”), a Civil War song (“A Distant Horizon”), and a miner/work song (“What A Man Has To Do”). Individually, they come off well. As a whole, a few less in the “modal” feel might have worked a bit better. Had there been a few more upbeat, positive songs in the style of “You Ask Me To,” this good record would have rated a notch higher. (

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