Shenandoah Drive hails from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and features Danny Seabolt on guitar, Dave Kirk on mandolin, Gary Reed on bass, Chris King on banjo, and the entire ensemble on vocals. Mason Wright guests on this release and provides fiddle throughout. The band plays average, but solid traditional bluegrass here, featuring a number of originals (seven of the twelve cuts here) penned or co-authored by lead singer Seabolt. The harmonies blend nicely, there is good instrumental support (especially from Chris King’s banjo), and Wright’s fiddle work is very good. Highlights of this release include Pete Goble and Leroy Drumm’s “Back To Dixie” (recorded many years back by the McPeakes), Carter Stanley’s “Our Last Goodbye,” and Billy Henson’s “It’s A Lonesome Feeling,” which is done at a nice slow soulful pace that lets Seabolt’s lead vocal and the harmonies shine.
One element that would have improved this release would be stronger overall material. The group sings and plays at a level that dictates they can (and should) be very particular about the material they work with. While most of the rest of the material here is adequate, it doesn’t really do the band’s ability any justice. There are a few too many cliché phrases, a few lines that don’t really hang together (I can’t wait to go to sleep/I can’t wait to close my eyes/Like a little boy at the county fair/Who just won his first prize), and some themes that many may have a hard time relating to (paving an old dirt road with mud-holes may be a change that most listeners would see as not being quite on par with the loss of an old friend or the old homeplace). Overall, this is a solid effort by a band that has the potential to do much more with the right material. (Shenandoah Drive, 265 Woodward Rd., Sperryville, VA 22740, www.shenandoahdrive.com.) AW