Dark Shadow Recording

   Rick’s website indicates he lives in Topeka, Kans., but tours professionally with the world-trotting, Grammy-nominated bluegrass band Special Consensus from Chicago. He’s been on five of the band’s recordings, playing mandolin and guitar, as well as lending his tenor voice to the band. This is his first ever solo recording.

This is an impressive project showcasing not only Rick’s vocal abilities, but also his writing skills by authoring ten of the twelve tracks and co-writing one with Special Consensus bassist Dan Eubanks. The songs cover waltzes, driving bluegrass, thought-provoking lyrics, a story song, and even a jazzy treatment on “Mississippi Steamboat Blues” reminiscent of Jimmie Rodgers. There’s also an original instrumental, “Stoneman’s Raid,” on which Justin Moses on banjo, brother Eddie Faris on bass, Laura Orshaw on fiddle, and Harry Clark on mandolin all fit right in.

Several of the songs give the listener pause to take in the true meaning of the lyrics. Rick’s “Hate’s Decree” asks why do we do the things we do: We love to hate and hate to love. Therefore, we must learn to love one another. In a similar fashion, “The Wedding Couple,” written by Rick while on tour in Ireland, tells of a bride’s wedding day from the view of the former intended husband who lost her to another. The song is enhanced by the added vocals from Becky Buller and Jana Mougin. “Honeybabe” is a bouncy number with clever lyrics about a girl who can really bake. Special Consensus band leader Greg Cahill adds the bounce with his banjo skills. Shawn Lane from Blue Highway adds tenor vocals to “Matthew & Mark’s Wisdom.” “Faith In Man,” another gospel-inspired song, closes the recording.

Faris has provided us with a refreshing project that stands apart from so many of the current crop of sound-alike bands and songs. Nice work from Rick on his debut solo recording. (www.darkshadowrecording.com)BW

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