This is easy listening bluegrass. The band simmers along with some sweet songs delivered in an unhurried style featuring Belinda Murphy’s vocals. On the fourth cut, they go up-tempo and drive into “Nothing But Sky,” a very catchy song. They dig in and get to the old mountain fiddle tune “Sandy Boys” or “Lonesome John” (both of which are the foundation on which Ralph Stanley built “Clinch Mountain Backstep”) for “Back Around The Mountain.” By this time, the listener is becoming fully aware of what a fine fiddler George Mason is on backup or lead.
The first half of this project is new or at least not well-known material. Then they start to dig into the older country songbook and pull out songs from the likes of Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, and Tommy Collins. The use of drums by Sean Murphy and the spare arrangements swing on such numbers as “I Can’t Get You Off Of My Mind,” on which Joshua Faul’s bass is solid and spot on. Pat Murphy’s banjo is understated, but on-the-money sparkling with unique riffs. The band flat-out rocks “Heartbreak Hotel” in the best tradition we could call heavy wood. Guest Aaron Ramsey provides some real tasty mandolin on the project, too.
This is one of those projects that walks the line between country and bluegrass and will appeal to fans of contemporary bluegrass. This is a very good release that should bring the band further recognition. (Delta Reign, 8319 Cottage Hill Rd., Mobile, AL 36695, www.deltareign.com.)RCB