Rural Rhythm is marking the Lonesome River Band’s thirtieth anniversary with a trio of “short form” projects reprising the band’s more popular tunes, with Volume 1 marking the period from the release of their debut album in 1982 to the Carrying The Tradition CD which introduced Sammy Shelor to the band in 1991. “Short form” means only eight cuts, in this case. Which seems a little strange, considering the output of this band. Why three CDs with just eight or so cuts on them, and not three CDs with twenty cuts each? It may be related to the fact that these are all new versions by the current band of mostly classic LRB material, and not re-releases of the original material which are on a different label. In any case, it is a little disappointing, and the liner notes are also fairly brief here, when an occasion like a thirtieth anniversary would seem to call for fairly extensive reflection/documentation of an impressive run such as LRB has had.
All that aside, the personnel here are top quality in the usual LRB tradition, and include Brandon Rickman on guitar, Randy Jones on mandolin, Barry Reed on bass, Mike Hartgrove on fiddle, and Shelor on banjo. Rickman and Jones carry the lead vocals, and all except Hartgrove contribute harmonies. Songs include “Close The Door Lightly When You Go,” “The Old Man In The Shanty,” “Laura Jean,” “The Game Is Over,” “Mary Ann,” “I’m Afraid To Love You Anymore,” “Hobo Blues,” and one new cut, a fine fiddle-banjo (and mandolin) workout on “Angeline The Baker.” It’s especially nice to hear “Close The Door Lightly” again, and “Laura Jean” seems to be an LRB signature song, in my mind.
The performances are all topnotch here, which is standard for LRB: great vocals, full tight harmonies and driving, tasteful instrumental work. It just leaves the listener wanting more. (Rural Rhythm, P.O. Box 750, Mt. Juliet, TN 37121, www.ruralrhythm.com.)AW