Cat Town Records

   For his second solo CD, his first since 2003, Shawn Lane calls upon family members and several close musical friends for backing. With him here are his brother Chad on harmony vocals, plus Gracie, Grayson (mandolin and one vocal), and Garrett (mandolin) Lane, along with Barry Bales, Jimmy Stewart (resonator guitar), Marcus Smith (bass), Patton Wages (banjo), Josh Miller (banjo), and, of course, Rob Ickes.

The inclusion of his family is fitting. No less than the first four of his ten originals have an underlying theme of family and continuity. “Mountain Songs Of Yesterday” looks back at the hard times his relatives had and the way they relieved those hard times by gathering to play music. Having Chad and Grayson on the track underscores that this practice continues for the Lanes. “Charlestown,” strong on guitar and banjo that create a Stanley sound, finds the narrator looking at his family’s long involvement with that town, ending on the idea that he’s still there, too, in “Charlestown.” Track three, “Top Of The Mountain,” remembers excursions, hunting and fishing with his father, and concludes with a verse in which he calls for his son to go on a similar journey. “A Mother’s Prayer,” an old-style mandolin and guitar tune (very archaic) ties together the continuity of a mother’s spiritual practice, of death and of life beyond.

Though the remaining songs shift to other topical themes—a couple of moving-on songs, a moonshiner song, a Civil War recollection, and a very brief fiddle and mandolin instrumental—the concept of continuity is reflected in Lane’s strong sense of tradition and of when to let that tradition speak for itself and when and how to bring that sound into a modern context. Lane is one of the best songwriters at both the traditional end and the modern end. This CD more than proves that. (

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