Mountain Roads Recordings
Can’t we all, the bluegrassers and the old-timers, just get along? Evidently, as this fine recording from Scott Freeman and Edwin Lacy proves, the answer is yes. Even mixing clawhammer and bluegrass banjo, even on the same track, back to back, is not a new idea, but certainly a welcome one and one that contributes to the success of this recording.
Freeman sings two here and plays mandolin, fiddle, and some bass. His vocals on Paul Simon’s “Homeward Bound” is well-matched to the material and captures the yearning mood set by the original. His own original, “I Feel A Heartache Coming On,” is also quite good, with a nice back-and-forth melody and an interesting chord progression. Lacy plays the clawhammer banjo and sings “Gentle On My Mind,” to which his baritone country voice is equally well-matched and sings Marshall Wilborn’s rewrite of “Black Jack Davy,” called “Little Black Pony.” Dori Freeman adds her lead on “Gold Watch And Chain,” and on Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Way I Feel.” All rate as highlights.
Of the rest, seven are instrumentals, the best of which are Lacy’s “Julianna Eyes” and the ripping version of “Forked Deer,” both featuring stellar guitar work from Brandon Davis. The old-time sounding “Julianna Eyes,” in particular, gets high marks for the contrast of atmospheric passages and gently galloping ensemble sections. The arrangement, during which each new solo begins alone, is joined by a second instrument and then by the full band, making it all the better.
While an enjoyable old-time sound dominates and colors much of this recording, five of the thirteen tracks place the bluegrass banjo of either Butch Robins or Steve Davis beside Lacy’s clawhammer. Hearing, most notably on “Dixie Breakdown,” how the two styles interact, how they change the overall feel in some instances and how they don’t in others, is instructive and fascinating and a great joy. (Mountain Roads Recordings, 3192 Hwy. 421, Bristol, TN 37620, www.mountainroadsrecordings.com.)BW