Mountain Fever

The liner notes to the new release from Sideline say there are four lead singers scattered throughout: Steve Dilling, Brian Aldridge, Skip Cherryholmes, and Brad Hudson. What the notes don’t say is who sings which tune. To be honest, I don’t know them well enough to hazard a guess. One is high and lonesome, another is low and sort of gravelly, another is in between. Let’s put it this way; they all sound very good and that includes Dudley Connell, who makes a guest appearance singing the standard “Unwanted Love.”

The mix of songs is nicely varied. They range from strongly traditional to contemporary. At the traditional end are “Are You Waiting Just For Me,” “You Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone,” the gospel of “Lord Of All Men” and Del McCoury’s “This Kind Of Life.” At the modern end are the guitar-driven and introspective gospel of “I Believe” and the achingly beautiful “Colors And Crossroads.” The latter is one of the standouts on the album, a fine piece of writing by Brink Brinkman and a fine performance from Sideline. Chris Jones’ “Uphill Climb” is a fast, semi-traditional sounding tune full of pop and heavy bass from Jason Moore. Also in that middle ground is the country weeper “The Blame,” all slow and swaying, along with a rewrite of “Darlin’ Corey,” given a blend of clawhammer and some modern twists. “Beggar In Heaven,” sung by the lower, gravelly voice, is also well worth a listen.

What’s truly impressive is how easily the band, which also includes fiddler Nathan Aldridge, moves from one style to the next, not just replicating it, but truly inhabiting it. One need only compare the McCoury song “This Kind Of Life” to the title song to see what I mean. A winning performance however they choose to play it. (

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