Jason Carter is the longtime fiddle player and support vocalist with the Del McCoury Band, founding member of the Travelin’ McCourys and five-time IBMA “Fiddle Player of the Year” award-winner. And as a bandleader in his own right, he’s hit another grand slam.
Informed by Carter’s rich and deeply expressive baritone and his nonpareil fiddle playing, Lowdown Hoedown is further enhanced by eclectic and inspired song choices and a large supporting cast that includes some of the biggest and most respected players in the industry.
The distinguished guest list includes: Sam Bush (mandolin), Cody Kilby (guitar), Jerry Douglas (dobro) Dennis Crouch (bass) Billy Strings (guitar and harmony vocals), Del McCoury (harmony vocals), Marty Stuart (mandolin), Scott Vestal (banjo), Tim O’Brien (mandolin and harmony vocal), Dierks Bentley (vocals), Ronnie McCoury (mandolin, electric mandolin and harmony vocal), Russ Carson (banj0), Sarah Jarosz (harmony vocal), David Grier (guitar), Rob McCoury (banjo) Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (fiddle), Aoife O’Donovan (harmony vocal), Danny Barnes (banj0), Alan Bartram (bass and harmony vocal), Joe Mullins (harmony vocal), Vince Gill (harmony vocal) and Jonathan Fishman (drums on “Bird Song”).
As top-heavy with talent as this project is, the various configurations of musicians on each respective track fit together seamlessly and deliver maximum impact. As for standout tracks, it’s hard to pick just one or two. This collection opens with a bluegrassy cover of the Bruce Hornsby-penned pop song, “King Of The Hill,” which dazzles with its provocative cascading lyrics and pluperfect picking.
On his reprise of John Hartford’s “The Six O’clock Train And A Girl With Green Eyes,” Carter captures all the nuances of high-strung restiveness and anxiety over an impending romantic reunion. Jerry Douglas turns in a spot-on Dobro ride. “The Likes Of Me” (Larry Boone and Bowles Richard Morgan Jr.) is a jaunty honky-tonk pledge of enduring devotion highlighted by Del McCoury’s harmonies and Marty Stuart’s mandolin.
“Hoedown For My Lowdown Rowdy Ways” (Edward D. Barnes), where Carter swaps lead vocal riffs with country star Dierks Bentley, is a rousing honky-tonk celebration that would sound right at home atop the country charts. It’s clear that the two of them had a heck of a good time laying this track down.
Carter & company take an exhilarating walk on the old-timey side on the deeply felt “Dustbowl Dream” (written by David Greir, who also plays guitar on this and a couple other cuts) and a haunting ballad of betrayal and murder called “You Led Me To The Wrong,” penned by Ola Belle Reed.
I could—and would‚—go on, if space allowed. But suffice it to say, this is a musical outing that hits on all cylinders and then some.