Rick Pardue and Timmy Massey – The Ghost of Noah Hayes

Rick Pardue and Timmy Massey - The Ghost of Noah Mayes - Bluegrass UnlimitedRICK PARDUE AND TIMMY MASSEY
Lizard Records

The witty, perceptive, to-the-bone songwriters Rick Pardue and Timmy Massey have combined their considerable talents with guitarist Jimmy Haley, mandolinist Jason Tomlin and fiddler David Johnson and have produced an entertaining all-original, 12-song CD.

Massey wrote four of the songs here, plays bass and sings most of the leads. Pardue wrote five, plays banjo and sings the balance. Three, they co-wrote. Massey seems the more straight-ahead writer, good with a turn-of-phrase and a melody line or hook. Along with his “Cold Virginia Nights,” given here a slightly thicker sound and a bit more bite than Ronnie Bowman’s hit version of the 1990s, he’s at his barroom best singing his “I’ve Got It Bad” tale of loving a wild woman who won’t have him. His other two are country weepers, the stronger of the two wistfully pleading that his girl’s return can save him from singing “This Lonesome Song.” All four are conventional thematically, but well-crafted and well-delivered.

Pardue, equally melodic and word-savvy, is more the storyteller. He too can write a conventional heartbreaker, such as “Something To Say,” but he’s at his best creating portraits of colorful characters. “Two-Chord Charlie,” the tale of a raconteur mountaineer with a limited musical knowledge, and “He Can’t Catch Fish,” which enumerates all the reasons he can’t, fall in that category. Both make good use of mountain feel, the former interpolating “Cripple Creek,” the latter employing a fiddle-tune style. Both will make you smile. “They Don’t Name Girls Beulah Anymore,” on the other hand, probably won’t as it recounts Beulah’s marital hardships and her old-time grit, but for poignency, construction and imagery it has the magic of a Tom T. story song.

Similarly magical and evocative are the Massey/Pardue song in which a father counsels his rakish potential son-in-law to “Talk Sweet To Jenny,” and their “The Ghost Of Noah Hayes,” with its “Brown Mountain Light”-tinged story of a road that won’t be paved. As with all good story songs, a few words and you’re hooked. Highly recommended. (Lizard Records, 2441 Poplar Springs Rd., State Road, NC 28676, www.rickpardue.net.) BW

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