This fine album is marked by the presence of a few friends stepping in and making it something special. It is Sisk’s voice married to the guitar of Aaron Ramsey that provides the groundwork this project is built upon. Sisk injured his hand while hunting and was unable to play guitar at the time of this recording. The band—Kameron Keller, bass, Jason Davis, banjo, Jamie Harper, fiddle and Johnathan Dillon, mandolin—is in fine form. They know their roles and deliver a strong presence throughout the project. Keller and Dillon also add harmony vocals. They all build upon the solid foundation set by Sisk and Ramsey to create an outstanding album.
The other quests on this project are Ronnie Bowman, heard on “Longneck Blues,” and appropriately, Paul Williams on a track paying homage to he and fellow bandmates, J.D. Crowe and Jimmy Martin, “Jimmy, JD & Paul.” The project gets to the point right out of the gate with “Lonnie Ray,” and they tidy things up with a powerful reading of the old chestnut “Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow.” In between, we are treated to some great songs written by Milan Miller, “Walking In The Blue Ridge,” Dan Wells’ “I Watched You Go,” the title-track and two strong gospel numbers, “In This World But Not Of It” and “What About Me Lord.” The dark humor of “Hang A Wreath” by Bill Castle and Don Rigsby works well in this set, as well.
Actually, there is not a weak track on the whole project. This is real, traditional, bluegrass played and sung with great soul and skill. The band sound and the vocals make for one of the most powerful projects of the year—great listening. (Mountain Fever, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd., Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.)RCB