Shannon Slaughter offers a little bit of everything and almost everybody on his new album, Ridin’ Through the Country. One thing is unchanged from his previous efforts, though—it is dyed-in-the-wool bluegrass to the core.
There are 15 songs on the album and Slaughter wrote or co-wrote nine of them. There is a long and impressive list of pickers and singers on Ridin’ Through the Country as well. Adam Steffey on mandolin; Aubrey Haynie on fiddle; Jason Davis, one of the most underrated pickers in the bluegrass universe, on banjo; Gavin Largent on resophonic guitar; Cliff Bailey on bass; and Shawn Lane (fiddle), Edgar Loudermilk and Danny Paisley on vocals are just a few highlights.
There are two tracks that feature Slaughter’s children on vocals. His daughter Rae takes on “Come to Jesus,” while Jed and Call take a turn on John Denver’s “Country Roads.” There is also a distinct country feel, complete with pedal steel, on the well-named “She’s Got Him Right Where She Wanted Me.”
But it’s the straight-ahead bluegrass that’s made Slaughter’s name that stands out on the project. “Plus One More Day” and the up-tempo “Alberta Clipper” are among the best. “Hard A’Port” and “Bloody Bill” offer strong bluegrass story-history songs. But perhaps the biggest potential hit is “I Stand for the Flag (and I Kneel at the Cross),” which is sure to go over well on the festival circuit.
Slaughter, a co-writer on “I Stand for the Flag,” says in the excellent liner notes that he believes the song covers both ends of the political spectrum and calls for freedom and working together. Lovers of traditional bluegrass will want to add this album which is steeped in good writing, great picking, and tight harmonies from an all-star cast. It’s just what fans have come to expect of Slaughter since he set out on his own.