Pinecastle Records
PRC 1186

The new Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road album opens with one of those tunes that just makes you feel good. The song is a Tom T. and Dixie Hall composition cataloging all the things, that when seen, you know “That’s Kentucky.” Part of the feel-good is, of course, that the Halls are master songwriters and anytime they get that mid-tempo, melodic groove going, they rarely miss. But equally important is the bright, cohesive performance of Jordan and her band, so solidly traditional and musical you just have to smile. They’re sounding brighter and tighter than ever, and that includes their previous charted recording, “Back To My Roots.”

If “That’s Kentucky” was the only highlight and the rest were merely okay, you’d still have to call this a successful recording. But it is only the first of a nice string of tunes. In fact, it is not until about two-thirds of the way in that they hit a short spell in which the energy flags and the tunes don’t rise as high. That brief spell still includes decent songs done well, but they don’t quite exude the pull of the covers of “Living With The Shades Pulled Down” (Boudleaux Bryant and Merle Haggard), the 3/4 time “You Won’t Ever Forget Me” (Lois Snapp/Ernest Tubb), and the “Song Of The French Broad” (Obray Ramsey) or of Ray Edwards’ “All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye” or Jordan’s propulsive, Osbornes-style ode to living life with purpose, “Living Like I’m Dying.”

Those opening six make an impact, regardless of tempo, and, along with the three closing numbers, including guitarist Tommy Long’s gospel tune “I Saw The Golden Stairs” and the torrid traditional instrumental “Liza Jane,” they make this the best Carolina Road recording yet. (Pinecastle Records, 2881 NC 108 Hwy. E, Columbus, NC 28722, www.pinecastlemusic.com.)BW

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