Break A String
IIIrd Tyme Out’s latest album kicks off in high gear with a jaunty romantic lament, “I’m Leaving You And Fort Worth Too” (penned by bandleader Russell Moore), and from there it never lets up. Every one of these 14 songs is infused with irrepressible energy and intensity that we’ve come to expect from these guys. Clearly, after nearly two and a half decades, a couple dozen albums, and a slew of SPBGMA and IBMA awards, the IIIrd Tyme Out juggernaut rolls on undaunted.
Though only two of these songs were written by band members, the song choices are unerringly on the mark. Taken as a collection, they strike an almost perfect balance between traditional and contemporary, rowdy and soulful, and sorrowful and celebratory. On the more rustic side, there’s a fine tragic Civil War ballad written by David Norris called “Sweet Mountain Rose.” “The Lowlands” (penned by Gary Scruggs) is an equally moving story-song. There’s also a rousing, contemporary version of A.P. Carter’s classic “Are You Tired Of Me My Darling.” In a more cheerful and contemporary spirit, Moore and the boys reprise “I Think I Want My Rib Back,” a comic lament co-written by Keith Whitley and Fred Koller (originally recorded by Whitley). “Had It Not Been For The Train” (Eli Johnson and Kevin McKinnon) is an immensely clever, tongue-in-cheek meditation on what life might be like if trains had never been invented and bluegrass and country musicians didn’t have them to write and sing about. The music takes a darker and more tortured turn with a pair of eerie murder ballads, “Poison Cove” (Milan Miller) and “River Bottom” (Billy Ed Wheeler).
Of course there’s more; a whole lot more, including an incredibly soulful, harmony-driven rendition of the old Sam Cooke soul ballad “You Send Me.” The only downside I can see to IIIrd Tyme Out’s latest offering is that they may soon run out of shelf and wall space, as the music awards and accolades keep rolling in.BA